Sakara-Rivera fight jinxed

Italy's Alessio Sakara, left, takes a knee courtesy of Houston Alexander two years ago during UFC...

Italy's Alessio Sakara, left, takes a knee courtesy of Houston Alexander two years ago during UFC 75.

NEIL SPRINGER

, Last Updated: 10:55 PM ET

TORONTO - Some things are simply not meant to be.

Three times the UFC has booked Alessio Sakara against Jorge Rivera and three times the fight has fallen apart.

The two were most recently scheduled to meet at UFC 133 Aug. 6 in Philadelphia, but Sakara has been forced to bow out due to a torn ACL.

As a result, the UFC has shuffled the deck a bit.

Constantinos Philippou, who was initially set to fight Rafael Natal in a preliminary bout, will replace Sakara on the main card, while Natal will now take on UFC newcomer Paul Bradley.

Sakara and Rivera were first scheduled to fight at UFC 118 last August, but Rivera broke his arm. The two were then booked for UFC 122 three months later, only for Sakara to fall ill hours before the event.

Sakara now joins Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vladimir Matyushenko, Riki Fukuda and Norifumi (Kid) Yamamoto on the list of fighters who have backed out of UFC 133 due to injuries. Can you say cursed?

Talk about a height advantage

One of the UFC heavyweight divisionís shorter fighters will take on its tallest.

Dangerous kickboxer and self-proclaimed ninja Pat Barry will have his work cut out for him when he meets Stefan Struve at UFC on Versus 6 Oct. 1.

The 5-foot-11 Barry is actually the second shortest heavyweight on the UFC roster, edging New Zealandís Mark Hunt by one inch. But when he meets Struve, heíll be giving up a full foot.

You read that right ó Struve is 6-foot-11.

Both men are coming off highlight-reel knockout losses.

At UFC 130, Struve was effectively utilizing his reach advantage over Travis Browne before getting flattened by a perfectly-timed Superman punch.

Barry was moments away from knocking out a dazed Cheick Kongo at UFC on Versus 4, when a desperation right hook wobbled him. Kongo then landed a nasty uppercut to put Barry to sleep in one of the most stunning comebacks in MMA history.

Souza lines up defence

Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo (Jacare) Souza will look to defend his strap for the second time when takes on Luke Rockhold Sept. 10 in Cincinnati.

Souza earned a close unanimous decision over Tim Kennedy to win the then-vacant title last August. The belt was without an owner after Jake Shields left Strikeforce for the UFC.

Souza then defended the championship, submitting Robbie Lawler with a rear-naked choke in January.

The Sept. 10 card features the semifinals of the Strikeforce world heavyweight grand prix. Undefeated Daniel Cormier will replace the injured Alistair Overeem against Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett is set to face Russian slugger Sergei Kharitonov.

Canadian prospect Jordan Mein is also expected to make his Strikeforce debut when he meets former welterweight title challenger Evangelista (Cyborg) Santos.

Mein is currently riding a five-fight win streak. In his last outing, he won an impressive unanimous decision over DREAM champion Marius Zaromskis at the Score Fighting Series card in Mississauga, Ont., last month.

Ortiz training with troops

Tito Ortiz is a busy man.

Following his career-saving upset over Ryan Bader at UFC 132 earlier this month, Ortiz jumped right back into the grinder, agreeing to replace the injured Phil Davis against Rashad Evans at UFC 133 on Aug. 6.

If preparing for a main event against a top light-heavyweight contender on short notice wasnít hectic enough, Ortiz has invited wounded U.S. war veterans to hit the gym with him.

As part of the non-profit program Pro vs. G.I. Joe: Rehabbing with the Troops, Ortiz has opened the doors to the Punishment Training Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., for one week to help ten service members overcome the physical and mental wounds sustained while answering the call of duty.

Pitbull set for comeback

Andrei (Pitbull) Arlovskiís first bout under the newly resurrected ProElite banner will be against Ray Lopez on Aug. 27 in Hawaii.

Though Arlovski was once considered one of the best heavyweights in the world, the former UFC champion hasnít won a fight in almost three years.

Oddly enough, his last victory was with the old ProElite, when he knocked out Roy Nelson at EliteXC: Heat on Oct. 4, 2008.

Since then, he has lost his past four fights, suffering brutal knockouts at the hands of Fedor Emelianenko, Brett Rogers and, most recently, Sergei Kharitonov. He also dropped a unanimous decision to Antonio Silva during that skid.

Lopez is a relative unknown who has been fighting for less than two years. He holds a 5-2 professional record and in his last outing earned a first-round TKO victory over the 5-10 Rob Morrow at a King of the Cage show earlier this month.


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