Lightweights will meet at MGM Grand on July 7
The UFC has added one more fight to its Independence Day weekend blockbuster card in Las Vegas.
Lightweights Shane Roller and John Alessio have been booked for a spot on the preliminary card of the summer pay-per-view. UFC officials announced the fight booking late Thursday.
UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 takes place July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be preceded by a UFC Fan Expo on July 6-7 at the Mandalay Bay convention center. UFC 148 features a main event middleweight title rematch between longtime champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
Alessio (34-15, 0-5 UFC) will still be looking for his first UFC victory. After three previous one-fight stints with the promotion, Alessio was brought back last month on short notice to fight Mark Bocek at UFC 145. But he dropped a unanimous decision. At UFC 26 in June 2000, Alessio was submitted by Pat Miletich. Nearly six years later, he got his next crack at the big time, but was outpointed by a then-unbeaten Diego Sanchez at UFC 60. After a win in the WEC before that promotion was owned by Zuffa, Alessio got one more shot – but suffered a unanimous decision setback to Thiago Alves.
Roller (10-6, 1-3 UFC) is mired in a rough patch with three straight losses. The former three-time All-America wrestler at Oklahoma State was knocked out by Melvin Guillard in the first round at UFC 132 last July, then submitted by TJ Grant in October. In January, he stepped in on short notice to fight Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox in Chicago and dropped a unanimous decision.
Roller won his UFC debut last March with a knockout of Thiago Tavares at UFC 128 after coming over following a highly successful 6-2 run in the WEC in which he lost only to future lightweight champs Anthony Pettis and Ben Henderson. His loss to Pettis was a title eliminator, and Pettis went on to beat Henderson to win the final WEC 155-pound belt. But he hasn’t found the same success in the UFC and may need a win to keep his job.
The Silva-Sonnen fight that moved to Vegas from a headlining spot at UFC 147 in Rio de Janeiro when the UFC’s plans for a soccer stadium show fell through. The co-main event was expected to be a bantamweight title fight between champ Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. But Cruz tore his ACL earlier this week and will be on the shelf for an extended period of time. Faber is expected to remain on the card and fight an opponent still to be announced for an interim bantamweight title.
Also on the card is a trilogy rubber match between former light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin in what is expected to serve as Ortiz’s retirement match. And former UFC middleweight champ Rich Franklin meets former Strikeforce 185-pound titleholder Cung Le.