FiveOuncesofPain is reporting that TUF 8 light-heavyweight winner Ryan Bader — who defeated Vinny Magalhaes last month to win the show’s six-figure contract — will be returning to action at UFC Fight Night 18 (April 1st, Nashville). His opponent will be Carmelo Marrero (10-2), an American Top Team fighter who went 1-2 in the UFC in 2006-2007. Marrero made his Octagon debut as a heavyweight at UFC 64, where he scored an upset split-decision over Cheick Kongo. Unfortunately, he then took a first-round loss via armbar to Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 66, and was then choked out by Wilson Gouveia at UFC 71 after dropping to light-heavyweight; Marrero was released by the UFC shortly after. Since then, "The Fury" has gone 4-0 with one no-contest, most recently winning a split decision over Steve Steinbless at WEC 36 in November — and earning a return trip back to the UFC.
In other UFC news…
— A little higher up the light-heavyweight ladder, Matt Hamill (5-2) will reportedly be welcoming WEC vet Mark Munoz (5-0) to the Octagon at UFC 96 (March 7th, Columbus). A former NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State and current protege of Urijah Faber, Munoz scored first-round TKO victories in his last two fights, against Ricardo Barros at WEC 37 last month and Chuck Grigsby at WEC 34 in June. Hamill most recently defeated Reese Andy by second-round TKO at last month’s UFC 92.
— Randy Couture will most likely face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in his next fight, but not until the second half of this year. Couture had to undergo surgery recently to remove a pair of abnormally large bone spurs from his elbow, which means he’ll be out rehabbing for a while.