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BAMMA 5: Ricco Rodriguez vs James McSweeney booked for Feb. 26 in Manchester


Ricco Rodriguez is fighting again.

And that's no longer a punchline because "Suave" has won ten straight fights and carries a record of 16-2 dating back almost three years.

Next stop: Manchester's BAMMA 5 on Feb. 26 from the MEN Arena opposite Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 veteran James McSweeney.

The promotion made the match-up official earlier today.

While Rodriguez has competed for both UFC and PRIDE, he's perhaps best known (to the new generation of fight fans) for his public battles with obesity and drug abuse, even appearing on the "Celebrity Rehab" reality show with Dr. Drew.

Outside of his personal issues, Rodriguez is a world-class talent. In addition to capturing the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) title in 1998 (open weight), he defeated Randy Couture at UFC 39 to win the promotion's vacant heavyweight title in 2002.

The New York native returned to a slim and trim physique in 2010, competing seven times (and securing five finishes) in regional and International promotions.

But will that streak come to an end against McSweeney?

"The Hammer" dropped to light heavyweight after mixed results in the 265-pound division. Despite looking good early in the season, his TUF 10 hopes were derailed by Roy Nelson and his dreaded-belly crucifix in the semifinals of the Spike TV reality show.

He was called back to compete in the June 2009 Finale and put a hurtin' on fellow cast mate Darrill Schoonover, stopping "The Boss" via third round technical knockout. Unfortunately McSweeney was unable to replicate that success against Travis Browne, falling to the undefeated "Hapa" on the undercard of TUF 11 Finale the following year.

As it turns out, the light heavyweight division was no less forgiving and a technical knockout loss to Fabio Maldonado brought upon his UFC release in late 2010.

But stopping Rodriguez would be a great first step towards getting back to the big show.

BAMMA 5 will be headlined by Strikeforce welterweight number one contender Paul Daley, as "Semtex" puts his title dibs at risk with a main event slugfest against Japanese DEEP veteran Yuya Shirai.

Stay tuned to for more on this still-developing fight card.

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