With the news that Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titlist Raphael dos Anjos was forced, due to his injury, to withdraw from his impending superfight with featherweight champion Conor McGregor in March, fighters came from weight classes aplenty offering to take the money slot in the McGregor sweepstakes.
Manny Gamburyan was one of them, tweeting out that he’d fight the Irish superstar at any weight from 135 to 155.
Gamburyan’s last tweet on Tuesday morning read, “Big news coming soon my friends and fans.”
And, although the Armenian grappler did not win the McGregor sweepstakes, he has a big bout on the horizon as he will welcome John “The Magician” Dodson back to the 135-pound men’s bantamweight ranks when the two square off April 16 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. at UFC on FOX 19.
The fight was confirmed by UFC officials on Tuesday afternoon.
The 31-year-old Dodson (17-7, 6-2 in UFC) is returning to the 135-pound class following a Sept. 5 loss to Demetrious Johnson in a battle for the flyweight (125 pounds) crown. The unanimous decision loss for Dodson, long considered one of the very best flyweights in the world, was his second against Johnson, prompting a move to bantamweight where Dodson debuted in the UFC in 2011, winning “The Ultimate Fighter 14” bantamweight tournament against TJ Dillashaw, who just recently lost the UFC 135-pound title. Dodson has been a mainstay training at Jackson-Wink MMA in New Mexico.
Gamburyan (15-8), who’s a combined 9-7 with one no contest in UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting competition, is 2-0 since moving to the bantamweight class in the UFC, which is his third weight class in the promotion. Gamburyan, 34, is on the heels of a July decision win over Scott Jorgensen that followed a submission of Cody Gibson on Sept. 27, 2014.
Gamburyan has been a longtime trainee at the Glendale Fighting Club, along with Team Hayastan in North Hollywood.
Already a blockbuster card that will feature a lightweight main event of Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0) taking on Tony Ferguson (20-3) with other fights such as Rashad Evans (19-4-1) facing Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (23-1) and Dan Henderson (31-14) against Lyoto Machida (31-14), it was not announced just where on the card the Gamburyan-Dodson bout would be placed.
Currently, the card features seven fighters who have challenged for UFC titles, including Dodson, and three former UFC champions.