UFC heavyweights Ilir Latifi and Aleksei Oleinik were originally scheduled to face off at the UFC Columbus event last weekend own ESPN; however, “The Sledgehammer” was scratched at the eleventh hour due to illness and the bout was rebooked for UFC 273.
Latifi will remain on the sidelines, paving the way for the struggling Vanderaa to step in and take his place. Since “The Mountain” is a career heavyweight, there will be little-to-no concern about making the 265-pound limit in time for the April 9 card in Jacksonville.
That said, the 29 year-old “Contender Series” graduate needs a victory in the worst way. Vanderaa (12-7) is coming off back-to-back defeats to Alexander Romanov and Andrei Arlovski and stands at just 1-3 under the UFC banner with two technical knockout losses.
As for Oleinik (59-16), this could be his final appearance for the promotion unless he puts together a spectacular performance. The 44 year-old “Boa Constrictor” has now lost three straight and has been knocked out five times inside the Octagon.
Lots at stake in this titanic tilt.
UFC 273 will be headlined by the featherweight title fight between reigning division champion Alexander Volkanovski and top 145-pound contender Chan Sung Jung, affectionately known as “The Korean Zombie.” The Aussie was originally expected to rematch Max Holloway but “Blessed” got sat due to injury.
In the UFC 273 co-main event, current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defends his strap against bitter rival and ex-division kingpin Petr Yan, who will compete with a makeshift corner. “Funk Master” captured the crown by way of controversial disqualification then took an extended leave of absence to deal with a surgically-repaired neck.
For the updated UFC 273 fight card and PPV line up click here.