Fresh off his unanimous decision victory over Kendall Grove at UFC 101, MMAmania.com has learned that Ricardo Almeida (11-3) will finally get to make his welterweight debut when he tangles with 170-pound stalwart Jon Fitch (19-3) at UFC 106 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 21.
Since returning to the sport of mixed martial arts after a self-imposed three-year layoff to open the Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Hamilton, N.J., "Cachorrao" has posted a 3-1 record, which includes wins over Grove, as well as the previously unbeaten Rob Yundt at UFC 81 and Matt Horwich at UFC Fight Night 18.
The lone loss came via split decision to the hard-hitting Patrick Cote at UFC 86 — a fight that earned "The Predator" a title shot against middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva.
Almeida was expected to make the drop in weight prior to UFC 101; however, Joe Silva offered him a chance to fight in front of his hometown crowd if he remained at 185-pounds to mix it up with "Da Spyder" during the televised portion of the Philadelphia event.
It was an offer he couldn't, and didn't, refuse.
With the hard-fought win behind him, Almeida can now set his sights on the welterweight division -- against arguably one of the toughest competitors in the entire class.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The former number one welterweight contender returned to the Octagon at UFC 100 to exact revenge against submission specialist Paulo Thiago, taking the contest via unanimous decision. The Brazilian stunned his good friend and American Kickboxing Academy training partner, Josh Koscheck, with a fight-ending first round uppercut at UFC 95: "Sanchez vs. Stevenson" earlier this year.
The Purdue University wrestler now boasts 10 victories for the promotion in 11 attempts. The lone blemish on his record is to welterweight deity Georges "Rush" St. Pierre in their championship match from UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" in Aug. 2008.
And the competition isn't getting any easier.
Stay tuned for more information on the developing UFC 106 fight card as it becomes available.