For the first time since 2006, Joe Riggs will make an appearance inside the Octagon, replacing the injured Mike Rhodes in a welterweight bout with Paulo Thiago. Also added to the card is a rematch between bantamweights Johnny Bedford and Rani Yahya, with the first bout between the two ending in a No Contest after an accidental clash of heads.
In his last MMA bout, Joe Riggs was crowned the FightMaster champion with a decision win over Mike Bronzoulis in November 2013. However, with the emergence of Scott Coker and a resurgence at Bellator, ‘Diesel’ was handed his release and has now gone on to sign with the promotion’s fierce rivals. Riggs has won six straight in a 55-fight career, and compiled a 4-4 record inside the Octagon during three different stints.
Now finding a home at welterweight, Riggs will look to continue his winning streak against a fellow veteran in Paulo Thiago. Thiago surprisingly signed a four-fight deal with the UFC despite losing six of his last eight Octagon appearances, a record which would typically result in the promotion cutting ties with the fighter. However, he has been handed another shot inside the UFC and will hope to re-find winning form after losing his last two.
Brazilian media outlet Globo were the first to announce the bout, after Mike Rhodes suffered an injury in training just days after his bout with Paulo Thiago was announced.
After their first bout ended in a No Contest, Johnny Bedford and Rani Yahya will square off once again in a repeat of their April bout. Since that fight, the pair were scheduled to fight in June, though Yahya was forced to pull out due to injury and replaced by prospect Cody Gibson. Bedford was handed a loss after a TKO just 38 seconds into the fight, though the circumstances – like with the first fight against Yahya – were controversial. Many argued that the fight was stopped early, and Bedford is now looking for his first win in four.
UFC Fight Night 51 is headlined by a rematch between the returning Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and recent signee Andrei Arlovski, and will be held at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil on September 13.