After nearly six years away from the organization, one of the UFC’s early lightweight stars will be making his long-awaited return this summer. MMA Junkie reports that Japanese grappler Caol Uno has re-signed with the UFC and will likely step back into the Octagon against Spencer Fisher at UFC 99 (June 13th; Cologne, Germany).
After beginning his MMA career in Shooto, where he eventually won the league’s 154-pound title, Uno entered the UFC in 2001 and immediately fought for the UFC’s "bantamweight" (155-pound) title against Jens Pulver. He lost a decision to Lil’ Evil, but after going 2-1 in his next three fights — including wins over Fabiano Iha and Yves Edwards, and the 11-second loss to BJ Penn shown above — Uno was invited to compete in a four-man UFC tournament to fill the lightweight title that Pulver had vacated. Uno defeated Din Thomas by decision in the tourney’s first round at UFC 39, but ran into Penn once again at UFC 41 in February 2003. The two fought to a frustrating five-round split-draw, which led the UFC to disband the 155-pound division for three years.
Uno fought for K-1 during that time, scoring notable wins over Hideo Tokoro, Rich Clementi, and Kultar Gill in their Hero’s promotion. Last year, Uno entered DREAM’s lightweight grand prix, where he choked out Mitsuhiro Ishida in the quarterfinals before losing to Shinya Aoki by decision in the semis. In recent weeks, Uno was mentioned as one of the fighters that the UFC wanted to use to break into Japan. Said Dana White: "Caol Uno, I love him. He’ll always be a part of the UFC. And yeah, we’re talking to him, too."
Uno’s next opponent, Spencer Fisher, is 7-3 in the Octagon and has won his last two bouts against Jeremy Stephens and Shannon Gugerty; he also holds UFC wins over Thiago Alves, Matt Wiman, and Sam Stout. So, it won’t exactly be an easy "welcome back" fight for the Japanese veteran.
Two videos of Uno actually winning fights are after the jump…
(Uno vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida, 5/11/08)
(Uno vs. Kultar Gill, 8/5/06)