(Props: Esther Lin)
With a full 13 bouts scheduled for UFC 103, fight fans are going to get their money’s worth tomorrow night in Dallas. Six fighters will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time, most of them trying to make the transition from hometown hero to big-time player. Read on to get acquainted with all the new faces, from Semtex to Tractor to Carny...
PAUL DALEY (WW)
Experience: 21-8-2 record, with 16 wins by KO/TKO. Was the former welterweight champion of Cage Rage. Holds stoppage victories over Duane Ludwig, John Alessio, Jess Liaudin, and Xavier Foupa-Pokam.
Will be facing: Martin Kampmann (15-2, 6-1 UFC)
Lowdown: You should already know about this guy. He knocks dudes out, and has never been knocked out himself. Still, if Kampmann can get this one to the ground, it’s a wrap. UFC.com tries to put a positive spin on the reality of the situation: "Chances are, when Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley is around, you’ll either witness a Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night."
STEVE LOPEZ (LW)
Experience: 12-1 record, primarily in Midwestern regional leagues. Holds a submission-via-strikes victory over The Gooch. Last competed in October 2008, when he scored a decision win over Alejandro Villalobos.
Will be facing: Jim Miller (13-2, 3-1 UFC)
?Lowdown: A South Bend native and member of the Bulldog Fight Team, Lopez comes to this fight as a replacement for Thiago Tavares. The UFC first noticed Lopez when he tried out for TUF 9 — and injured his shoulder in the process. The former wrestler was inspired to try MMA when he saw The Smashing Machine, and made his pro debut in February 2007 at a four-man tournament, which he won via two consecutive knockouts. He just wants to get in there and scrap: “Win or lose, I hope the fans say ‘man, this kid’s tough – he’s got heart and he don’t back down.’ And this fight is the type of fight I’m looking for – Jim Miller, Roger Huerta, Tyson Griffin – I’m looking for grinders. Those just have Fight of The Night written all over them. I’m not afraid to stand and bang, and I can take a whuppin’. We throw down hard in practice, I’ve never been knocked down, and these are the fights that interest me.”
RAFAELLO OLIVEIRA (LW)
?Experience: 9-1 record, including two TKO victories over Wigman Big Big (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up). Last competed in April, when he took a decision over John Mahlow. His sole loss came against Lyle "Fancy Pants" Beerbohm.
Will be facing: Nik Lentz (see below)
?Lowdown: Oliveira was originally supposed to take on Takanori Gomi at Affliction: Trilogy in August, but it got canceled. Then, he was slated to take on Dan Lauzon at UFC 103, but Lauzon went down with an injury. He trains out of Premier Martial Arts in Knoxville, and was part of BJ Penn‘s training camp before the Kenny Florian fight. He comes from a BJJ background, and his nickname is Tractor, probably because he hates tractors.
NIK LENTZ (LW)
Experience: 16-3 record, against guys with normal-sounding names for the most part. Holds a decision win over Drew Fickett (not that that means much anymore) and is responsible for one of Kenneth Allen‘s 27 losses.
Will be facing: Rafaello Oliveira (see above)
Lowdown: A former Division I wrestler for the University of Minnesota, "Carny" now trains out of the Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts Academy, home of Sean Sherk, Brock Lesnar, and Brock Larson. Lentz grew up in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, before relocating to Minnesota for high school. He’s a bit of a geek, listing video games, sci-fi, and anime among his interests, and claims his IQ is in the 135-141 range due to his aptitude in spatial-temporal reasoning and math, "but on language ability I score just above a mentally handicap." Can’t wait for that post-fight speech!
BRIAN FOSTER (WW)
Experience: 12-3 record in various regional leagues, all wins by stoppage, 10 in the first round. In his last two fights, he knocked out Kyle Baker in 59 seconds, and Mike Jackson in five seconds.
Will be facing: Rick Story (7-3, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: A member of the H.I.T. Squad, Foster was the original opponent for Paul Daley on this card, before Swick got injured and things got flipped around. According to his profile on thehitsquad.com, the Oklahoma native began competing in MMA to channel the anger and aggression he felt following the death of his brother. Before that, he worked at a bed factory. His nickname, no shit, is "Foster Boy."
IGOR POKRAJAC (LHW)
Experience: 21-5 record in European leagues, with 18 wins by stoppage. Is currently riding an 8-fight win streak.
Will be facing: Vladimir Matyushenko (22-4, 3-2 UFC)
Lowdown: Pokrajac is a longtime training partner of Mirko Filipovic. There doesn’t seem to be anything on the Internet on this guy that’s written in English, so we’ll just refer you to the highlight video below. Since