Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner (32-6) is rumored to be making his long-awaited return to the Octagon against Dean Lister (9-5) at UFC 79 on December 29, according to MMAonTap.com and Fightlinker.com.
Tanner has been on a bizarre sabbatical since his submission win over Justin Levens at UFC 59 in April 2006. He has been getting back in fighting shape at ChuteBoxe in California after letting himself go for months.
The camp issued a statement months ago that Tanner would return sometime in September. However, those statements never turned out to be accurate. In fact, Dave Meltzer even reported that Tanner isn't even under contract.
Therefore, treat this report as "rumor" until more detailed information comes along -- we've been down this road with Tanner before.
Lister is rehabbing from biceps surgery that has had him out of action since his decision loss to Nate Marquardt at UFC Fight Night 8 in January.
The Brazailian jiu-jitsu blackbelt recently flew out to Croatia to help Mirko Cro Cop train for his upcoming heavyweight bout with Cheick Kongo at UFC 75 this Saturday.
UFC 79 features the welterweight title fight between 170-pound champ Matt Serra and newfound nemesis, Matt Hughes. Wanderlei Silva is also expected to make his return to the Octagon that New Year's Eve weekend.