(Can Dan “Viking” Evensen conquer the UFC’s heavyweight division?)
“Seek and Destroy” is just four days away, and like most UFC shows, there will be a crop of Octagon newbies given a chance to sink or swim against high-level competition. Let’s take a look at the fresh meat…
DAN EVENSEN (HW)
Experience: 10-2 record (5 wins by 1st-round KO/TKO), with multiple appearances in Gladiator Challenge and BodogFight. Notable wins over Ruben Villareal and Jeremiah Constant; losses to Christian Wellisch and Dan Bobish. Last fight was a decision win over Konstantin Gluhov last November.
Will be facing: Cheick Kongo (11-4-1, 4-2 UFC)
Lowdown: Evensen is a 6’3″, 250-pound Norwegian, who “hates all wrestlers worldwide.” He briefly competed in K-1 and was associated with Master Toddy‘s Muay Thai Camp.
RYAN THOMAS (WW)
Experience: 9-1 record (all wins by stoppage), with multiple appearances in Extreme Challenge and Courage Fighting Championships. Is one of 27 fighters to have defeated MMA punchline Kenneth Allen. Has already competed five times this year, most recently submitting John McElroy in 36 seconds on July 17th.
Will be facing: Ben Saunders (5-0-2, 1-0 UFC)
Lowdown: A part-time student at Eastern Illinois University, Thomas accepted the Saunders fight on just 12 days notice, filling in for Jared “J-Roc” Rollins, who had to pull out of the card suddenly. According to Thomas, he was brought on under a four-fight contract.
STEVE BRUNO (WW)
Experience: 11-3 record (6 wins by KO/TKO), with multiple appearances in the AFC and Spirit MC. Last fought in April 2007, when he knocked out Jae Suk Lim. Trains with American Top Team.
Will be facing: Chris Wilson (13-4, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Bruno is a New York native who became Spirit MC’s first non-Korean champion when he took the middleweight belt from Lim last year. A member of the U.S. Navy who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq, Bruno was supposed to make his UFC debut against Chad Reiner at UFC Fight Night 10, but had to pull out due to a torn rotator cuff.
ANDRE GUSMAO (LHW)
Experience: 5-0 record (3 wins by KO/TKO); his last four bouts were held in the IFL, where he fought for Renzo Gracie‘s New York Pitbulls. He hasn’t competed since his 53-second knockout-by-knee victory over Mike Ciesnolevicz at the IFL’s 2007 Team Championship Final last September (which the Pitbulls won).
Will be facing: Jon Jones (5-0, 0-0 UFC)
Lowdown: Gusmao was slated to debut in the UFC against David Heath several months ago, but his contractual obligations with the IFL prevented him from doing so. Besides jiu-jitsu, he also has a background in capoeira — Gusmao via reverse cartwheel kick KO?
JON JONES (LHW)
Experience: 5-0 record (4 wins by first-round stoppage), with multiple appearances in Battle Cage Xtreme. His pro debut came on April 12th of this year, and he has fought four more times since then. His last win was a 2nd-round TKO victory over Moyses Gabin at Battle Cage Xtreme 5 on July 12th.
Will be facing: Andre Gusmao (5-0, 0-0 UFC)
Lowdown: Like Ryan Thomas, Jones will make his Octagon debut by filling in for someone else on very short notice; he’ll be replacing the injured Tomasz Drwal against the also-undefeated Andre Gusmao. Jones was a wrestling champion in high school and college, and at 21 years old, he’s the youngest fighter currently under contract with the UFC.