Five fighters will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 17; you can watch the action on Spike TV starting at 9 p.m. ET. But which ones have potential, and which ones are just being brought in to be fed to Cain Velasquez? Read on and find out…
JAKE ROSHOLT (MW)
?Experience: 5-0, with all wins by stoppage. Last fight was a second-round TKO of Nissen Osterneck at WEC 36 in November.
Will be facing: Dan Miller (10-1, 2-0 UFC)
?Lowdown: Rosholt’s long list of achievements in amateur wrestling include three NCAA championships at Oklahoma State University. He transitioned into MMA soon after graduation, setting up shop at Xtreme Couture, and has looked impressive ever since. But in his WEC debut against Osterneck, his standup defense looked sorely lacking, and he might be very vulnerable against a seasoned vet like Dan Miller. Rosholt is signed to Ted Ehrhardt’s Team Takedown crew, and gets a $100,000 salary plus health benefits and stipends for housing and a vehicle; in return, Ehrhardt will get 50% of his income for the next seven years.
DENIS STOJNIC (HW)
?Experience: 5-1 fighting in Holland, Croatia, and Serbia. Four of his six fights have gone to decision.
Will be facing: Cain Velasquez (4-0, 2-0 UFC)
?Lowdown: Hailing from Sarajevo, "Denis the Menace" now calls the famed Dutch camp Golden Glory his home. But while he has no shortage of top European fighters like Alistair Overeem and Sergei Kharitonov to work out with, he’s also the kind of fighter who Velasquez eats for breakfast; in fact, it’s hard to see Cain losing this one. Wikipedia lists Stojnic’s fighting style as "Sambo, Karate." Unless he learned his sambo from Fedor Emelianenko and his karate from Lyoto Machida, we wouldn’t put too much faith in him.
MATT VEACH (LW)
?Experience: 10-0 primarily in midwestern promotions, with nine wins by stoppage within the first two rounds.
Will be facing: Matt Grice (9-1, 1-1 UFC)
?Lowdown: Brought in on short notice to replace the injured George Sotiropoulos, this St. Louis native is one of the HIT Squad‘s brightest prospects, and actually works there as an assistant trainer. Veach also has collegiate wrestling experience, and is known for his high-powered slams. And hey look, we found a quote from him: "I wanted to continue competing at a high level because I know I’m good at it, God gave me athletic gifts that others don’t have. MMA was the outlet I chose to display that. When I step into a cage all of life’s problems go away, all that little stuff. It’s just me and my opponent and nothing else matters."
NICK CATONE (MW)
?Experience: 5-0, primarily in the Atlantic City-based Ring of Combat promotion. Four wins by first-round stoppage.
Will be facing: Derek Downey (10-3, 0-0 UFC)
?Lowdown: Catone is the poor bastard who has been sidelined since last June, waiting for TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah to get healthy; the UFC is finally giving him a fight against another Octagon newbie. Though Catone trains with BJJ specialist Ricardo Almeida in New Jersey, he’s mainly relied on his sharp hands to finish fights. According to his bio, Catone is another college wrestling vet, and currently holds the Ring of Combat/USKBA Middleweight Championship Belt.
DEREK DOWNEY (MW)
?Experience: 10-3 record primarily in Utah-based leagues, with five T/KO wins and five submission wins. Has had the pleasure of losing to Ed Herman (by TKO) and Josh Burkman (by decision).
Will be facing: Nick Catone (see above)
?Lowdown: Downey has unsuccessfully tried out for the last two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, which either means his personality is too boring to be on a reality show, or he loses when the pressure’s on. Not that it matters; the Jeremy Horn student has won his last three fights by first-round stoppage and has earned his way into the UFC. According to his MySpace page, he’s a Mormon with four kids; he signs off his blog posts with "Dream and work."