Francisco Rivera in for Gashimov, Meets Alex Soto at UFC on Fuel TV in Virginia

Francisco Rivera (Josh Hedges/UFC)

Bantamweights fight on May 15 card in Fairfax

Azamat Gashimov has been forced out of his bantamweight fight against Alex Soto later this month and Francisco Rivera will step in on short notice to take his place.

Sherdog was first to report news of the change earlier this week. It will be Rivera’s second fight and second stint in the UFC. Gashimov was to be making his UFC debut.

Rivera and Soto will meet on the preliminary card of UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier, which takes place May 15 at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. The event is headlined by a featherweight contenders bout between “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, and Dustin Poirier. The card is the UFC’s second in Fairfax and will be its third live event on the Fuel TV cable network.

Rivera (7-2, 0-1 UFC) made his UFC debut on the Season 13 Finale card for “The Ultimate Fighter” last June and lost a third-round submission to Reuben Duran. Prior to that, Rivera suffered a head-kick TKO loss to Erik Koch at WEC 52 prior to the WEC’s merger with the UFC.

Outside the UFC his last two fights, Rivera picked up a pair of first-round knockout wins for Tachi Palace Fights, stopping his opponents in a combined 1:55. He had been booked for another TPF fight next week, but has been replaced in his scheduled fight against Alexander Crispim by UFC veteran Ian Loveland.

Soto (6-1-1, 0-1 UFC) is looking to rebound from his first loss, a 56-second knockout setback against fast-rising bantamweight contender Michael McDonald at UFC 139 last November. Prior to signing with the UFC, Soto started his career 6-0 with one draw and five stoppages.

Along with the Jung-Poirier main event, UFC on Fuel TV 3 features a welterweight bout between Season 7 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Amir Sadollah and Wanderlei Silva protege Jorge Lopez and a lightweight bout between Donald Cerrone and Jeremy Stephens. The main card on Fuel TV will feature six bouts in a three-hour broadcast time slot.