According to a June 6 report from FOX Sports, the UFC marked its Albuquerque debut with a stacked card featuring two important lightweight collisions at the top of the main card. Albuquerque has long been a hotbed for MMA, being that dozens of high-level UFC athletes train at Greg Jackson's gym, which is located close to the center of the city.
Despite that fact, the UFC never came there because its just the 59th-largest metro area in the United States. With a low population of just over 550,000, the UFC always passed up Albuquerque in favor of larger cities. However, doing a show in Albuquerque suddenly became a great idea when Diego Sanchez rose to stardom, since he was born and raised in the area.
That said, its no surprise that Sanchez will be featured in the co-main of the UFC Fight Night card set for Albuquerque's Tingley Coliseum. Sanchez, 32, battles Ross Pearson in a key matchup that will determine who is a true title contender in the UFC's lightweight division. Sanchez lost three of his last four, but he's still a fan favorite and the UFC sees him as a big draw.
Its highly unlikely that Sanchez will get cut from the UFC, even if he gets knocked out by Pearson for his fourth loss in five fights. Sanchez was a contestant on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and he's been with the UFC for close to a decade. Besides the fact that he always puts on a show with his wild standup style, UFC head honcho Dana White loves him. As for Pearson, he comes into the fight heavily favored over the hometown hero.
Pearson, 29, was riding a two-fight win streak, before fighting Melvin Guillard last year in England. During that fight, he suffered an illegal knee to the forehead and was unable to continue, so it was ruled a "No Contest." Pearson now heads into hostile territory against a grizzled warrior in Sanchez. A win would propel him into the top 10 in the world at lightweight.
In the UFC Fight Night headliner, Benson Henderson takes on fast-rising superstar Rustam Khabilov. Henderson, 30, is a household name by now, having demolished a who's who of UFC lightweights since joining the promotion four years ago. Henderson's only loss in the UFC was at the hands of Anthony Pettis. Besides that, he rattled off wins over Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar and others.
Khabilov, 27, isn't as well-known as casual fans, but a win over Henderson could make him a household name. Khabilov is riding a three-fight win streak under the UFC banner, and six-fight win streak overall. Also on the UFC Fight Night main card, John Dodson battles John Moraga at flyweight and Bryan Caraway takes on Erik Perez at bantamweight. UFC Fight Night also features two more exciting lightweight tilts, as Rafael dos Anjos fights Jason High and Yves Edwards takes on Piotr Hallmann.
The UFC Fight Night 42 undercard kicks off with an exciting battle between Patrick Cummins and Roger Narvaez. Cummins is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier, and he his job may be in jeapordy with a loss at UFC Fight Night 42. UFC Fight Pass airs the Cummins vs. Narvaez fight exclusively, before the action moves to Fox Sports 1 for more prelims. The main card kicks off at 10 p.m.