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Ricardo Almeida re-signs with the UFC to fight at middleweight

ricardo almeidaUFC veteran Ricardo Almeida recently signed a six-fight contract to return to the middleweight division and will fight sometime in early 2008, according to

The good news was confirmed over the weekend during the UFC 77: "Hostile Territory" post event press conference.

Almeida -- a Renzo Gracie-trained jiu-jitsu black belt -- has been absent from professional mixed martial arts competition since 2004. His resume of opponents prior to the layoff is impressive, however, including notables such as Ryo Chonan (win), Nathan Marquardt (win) and Kazuo Masaki (win), among others.

The Brazilian debuted inside the Octagon against Matt Lindland in 2001, which resulted in a loss via disqualification (multiple fouls). Almeida redeemed himself with a submission win (triangle choke) over Eugene Jackson four months later, but was defeated by Andrei Semenov via technical knockout in his third and final UFC bout in 2002.

Now he's back ... and it couldn't come at a better time. The 185-pound division is desperate for an opponent to step up and declare himself the number one contender to challenge Anderson Silva for his middleweight crown.

With a few impressive wins -- and a shiny new contract -- Almeida has that opportunity.

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