After a disappointmenting UFC 223, the promotion has been hard at work, putting together some stellar cards for the rest of the year and now, they have added an absolute beast of a matchup to UFC 226!
In addition to the main event heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, we recently learned that top bantamweights Raphael Assunção and Rob Font has been added to the card.
And now, a fight between kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki and The Ultimate Fighter 23 runner-up Khalil Rountree Jr has been added to the card!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) April 13, 2018
The pair were originally scheduled to do battle at UFC 219 in December but Saki had to pull out after he suffered a knee injury.
As a result, Rountree Jr fought replacement Michał Oleksiejczuk and lost via a unanimous decision, but the loss was later overturned when his opponent tested positive for the banned substance Clomiphene.
Before that fight, the 28-year-old Rountree Jr had recorded back-to-back knockout wins over Daniel Jolly and Paul Craig.
CHECK OUT ROUNTREE JR’S KNOCKOUT OF PAUL CRAIG AT UFC FIGHT NIGHT 113:
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 16, 2017
The 34-year-old Saki currently boasts a pro-MMA record of 1-1 but the light heavyweight has a huge following due to his impressive kickboxing career in which he notched up a record of 83-12 (1 No Contest). 59 of those victories came by way of KO/TKO too – a good strike rate for a kickboxer.
Back in 2004, Saki made his first foray into MMA, losing his debut bout to wily veteran James Zikic by TKO.
14 years later, a much more rounded fighter had his second bout; a successful UFC debut with a highlight-reel first-round knockout of Henrique da Silva.
Fans will be itching to see what progress he has made since then.
His upcoming opponent is no joke, though: Rountree Jr started training MMA at age 20 in order to lose weight (he was 300 pounds at the time) and instantly fell in love with the sport.
In April 2016, he competed on TUF 23. In the first round, he faced Muhammed DeReese and won via knockout. In the elimination round, he lost via submission to Cory Hendricks.
Later in the show, Hendricks had to pull out of the competition due to neck injury so Dana White decided to bring back Rountree Jr back for the semi-final.
Rountree Jr faced Josh Stansbury and won via knockout in the first round and advanced to face Andrew Sanchez at the finale.
Although he lost that fight by way of a unanimous decision, Rountree Jr has impressed since then and will surely be Saki’s toughest challenge inside the Octagon, to date.
Currently, there are only three scheduled fights on the UFC 226 card but all three are absolutely mouth watering. We can’t wait to see what other matchups are made. And as always, as soon as we know anything, you will too!
CHECK OUT THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM SAKI’S INCREDIBLE UFC DEBUT: