‘Sapo’ Replaces Goncalves, Meets Sakara at UFC Live 3

By Mike Whitman Jan 14, 2011
Rafael “Sapo” Natal (Pictured) will step in for an injured Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves and face Alessio Sakara in a middleweight duel at UFC Live 3 “Sanchez vs. Kampmann.”

The bout has yet to be officially announced by the promotion. MMAWeekly.com first reported the change on Friday, and Sherdog confirmed the news shortly thereafter with sources close to the contest. The event, which will go down March 3 from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky., will be headlined by a welterweight tilt between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann and will air live on Versus.

A student of Renzo Gracie, Natal is still searching for his first UFC win. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s first trip inside the Octagon ended in defeat, as he was outpointed by Rich Attonito at UFC Fight Night 22 in September. In his sophomore effort, “Sapo” fought Canadian Jesse Bongfeldt to a majority draw at UFC 124 in Montreal. The middleweight holds seven of his 12 career victories by submission and has never been submitted himself.

Sakara has won his last three bouts in the UFC, but he has struggled with injuries in the last year. After besting Joe Vedepo, Thales Leites and James Irvin, “Legionarius” was supposed to meet Jorge Rivera at UFC 118. When injuries forced both men off the card, the pair was scheduled to rematch at UFC 122 in November. Suffering a nasty bout of gastritis just hours before the fight was to start, a vomiting Sakara was forced to again withdraw from his bout with Rivera.

UFC Live 3 will also feature a middleweight scrap between C.B. Dollaway and Mark Munoz, as well as a bantamweight tilt between former WEC champion Brian Bowles and Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product Damacio Page.
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