Yoshihiro Akiyama | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
The fight card for UFC 128 is nearly complete, as the promotion ratified three more bouts for the event on Thursday.
As expected, Nate Marquardt will square off against Yoshihiro Akiyama on the main card. Akiyama was reportedly slated to meet Chael Sonnen before Sonnen pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge in federal court earlier this month.
The preliminary card for the event, which goes down March 19 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., will also feature a previously reported light heavyweight bout between Karlos Vemola and Luis Cane, as well as a newly-revealed featherweight showdown between Manny Gamburyan and Raphael Assuncao.
Marquardt’s last trip inside the cage resulted in a close unanimous decision loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 122 in November. The defeat cost him another shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title. Akiyama has been exciting, if not successful in the UFC, earning three consecutive “Fight of the Night” awards while winning only one of those contests.
After suffering the first loss of his young career to heavyweight prospect Jon Madsen in his UFC debut, Vemola decided to make the cut to 205 pounds. He found success in his sophomore outing, as the muscular Czech pounded Seth Petruzelli into submission at UFC 122. Cane comes off the first back-to-back losses of his career, having suffered consecutive knockouts to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Cyrille Diabate.
Gamburyan won three-straight fights at featherweight before running into champion Jose Aldo at WEC 51 in September. Like most others who have crossed paths with the champ, “The Anvil” was knocked out cold. Assuncao rebounded from back-to-back losses in his last outing with a win over L.C. Davis. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has won seven of his last nine fights.
UFC 128 will be headlined by a light heavyweight title clash, as champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua puts his belt on the line against former titleholder Rashad Evans. In the co-main event, former WEC champions Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland square off in a bantamweight showdown.