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UFC 82: Evan Tanner to fight in Columbus, Ohio (Exclusive)

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Evan TannerMMAmania.com (www.mmamania.com) recently learned that former middleweight champion Evan Tanner (32-6) will return to the Octagon at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio, at the Nationwide Arena on March 2.

No opponent has been named.

Tanner -- who will be 37 years old on fight night -- has not competed since a submission win (triangle choke) over Justin Levens at UFC 59: "Reality Check" in April 2006. He recently signed a four-fight contract extension to return to action and provide some much-needed depth and experience to a relatively talent-shallow 185-pound division.

It's been a long strange trip for Tanner outside the cage during his almost two-year self-imposed fight hiatus.There's no telling if he can recapture his old form and become a middleweight contender.

Either way it's going to be fun to watch -- Tanner fights rarely go the distance. In fact, he has only been in involved in three decisions in nearly 40 professional mixed martial arts bouts.

It's important to note that Tanner will fight on the same card as current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Tanner has mentioned numerous times that he feels he matches up well with "The Spider" and is eager to give it a shot.

Two things would more than likely have to happen for that to occur: Silva needs to defeat -- or lose to -- Dan Henderson (no sure thing) and Tanner would have to rattle off at least two wins (no sure thing, either.)

Again, it should be fun to watch regardless of the results.

For the latest rumored UFC 82 fight card click here. For more on Tanner hit up this archive.

(Thanks to MMAmania.com reader "Mr. NC-17" for the assist.)