Alessio Sakara (12-6) will make his middleweight debut against Chris Leben (17-4) at UFC 82: "Pride of a Champion" on March 1 from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Sam Caplan from ProElite.com confirmed the rumored match up earlier this afternoon.
The booking is a bit strange for two reasons: Sakara just competed at UFC 80: "Rapid Fire" on January 19, giving him less than six weeks between fights (not unheard of but rare). In addition, UFC 82 looks to already have nine fights lined up and this would make it 10 (again, not unheard of but rare).
Regardless, if and when this fight goes down it will more thank likely be an all out slugfest. Sakara is a former Italian professional boxer and Leben is someone who prefers to stand and trade even though is ground game is decent.
Put simply, it's highly doubtful that this one goes the distance.
Since his Octagon debut in 2005, Sakara has had an up and down tenure (3-3). Those mixed results could be attributed in part to competing in the wrong division, which is among the organization's deepest.
In addition, his training and conditioning have been other top concerns in the past. However, Sakara recently signed on to work with the prestigious American Top Team (ATT) camp down in South Florida to remedy those shortcomings.
Only time will tell if the adjustments are indeed worthwhile.
Leben is a former contestant on season one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) who has had some growing pains of his own during his last few appearances. In fact, up until he knocked out a game Terry Martin at UFC Fight Night 11 he had lost back-to-back fights and three of his last four contests.
There's a lot on the line for both guys here: Can Leben capitalize on the momentum and make another run to the top or will Sakara steal his thunder and blossom with his new start?
To check out the latest rumored UFC 82 fight card click here.