Joe Lauzon vs Sam Stout in the works for UFC 108 on Jan. 2

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Joe Lauzon is set to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon much sooner than expected when he collides with Sam Stout in a lightweight showdown planned for UFC 108 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 2, 2010.

Sources out of Las Vegas tell MMAmania.com that bout agreements have been distributed, but are unsigned at this time.

Lauzon underwent major knee surgery in March of this year to repair a torn meniscus, which was supposed to keep The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 alum on the sidelines for at least 12 months.

He's apparently way ahead of schedule.

Lauzon most recently saw action against Jeremy Stephens in the UFC Fight Night 17 main event in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 14. He took out "Lil’ Heathen" with a second round armbar to notch his second straight win inside the Octagon.

Prior to the back-to-back victories, Lauzon was one of the many recent victims of Kenny Florian courtesy of a second round technical knockout loss at UFC Fight Night 13 back in April 2008. It was a temporary setback for the Boston-area native who appeared to be climbing his way back toward the top of the division before the injury.

Lauzon -- who has five wins in six attempts inside the Octagon -- now looks to get back on track and start the New Year fresh.

Stout was supposed to take on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 lightweight finalist, Phillipe Nover, at UFC Fight Night 19: "Diaz vs. Guillard" on Sept. 16, 2009; however, "The Filipino Assassin" passed out in the locker room literally hours before showtime, which forced the promotion to scrap the bout on super short notice.

"Hands of Stone" recently broke out of a rare 0-2 slump by outpointing Matt Wiman at UFC 97: "Redemption" back on April 18. The heavy-handed lightweight is probably best known for his two action-packed battles against Spencer "The King" Fisher.

He'll now try to make it two straight when he takes on Lauzon.

UFC 108 is expected to serve as the promotion’s traditional "year-end" event because the Christmas holiday falls on the last weekend of 2009. Currently, the only other fight scheduled for the card is UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva taking on the surging Vitor Belfort.

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