UFC's Fuel Debut in Omaha Gets Simpson-Markes, Brookins-Yahya

By Mike Whitman Dec 15, 2011
Aaron Simpson (right) will square off with Ronny Markes on Feb . 15. | Photo: Dave Mandel



The announced fight card for UFC on Fuel 1 continues to grow, as promotion officials recently announced a pair of new contests for the Feb. 15 event.

Middleweights Aaron Simpson and Ronny Markes will collide at the show, as will featherweights Jonathan Brookins and Rani Yahya. UFC on Fuel 1 marks the first of six planned events on the Fox-owned cable station in 2012. Headlined by a pivotal welterweight conflict pitting Diego Sanchez against Jake Ellenberger, the show will emanate from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Simpson, 37, has won three straight fights since dropping back-to-back contests to Chris Leben and Mark Munoz in 2010. Since suffering those defeats -- the only losses of his 13-fight career -- Simpson has rattled off wins over Mario Miranda, Brad Tavares and Eric Schafer in 2011.

Markes, 23, makes his UFC middleweight debut against Simpson. The Brazilian prospect was initially called up to the UFC as an injury replacement for Stephan Bonnar in August. Markes made the most of his opportunity at light heavyweight, outpointing Karlos Vemola en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC Live 5.

Brookins was introduced to UFC audiences as a cast member of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12, winning the competition by outlasting Michael Johnson at the live finale in December 2010. Competing as a lightweight during his time on the show, Brookins returned to the featherweight division for his sophomore UFC effort, dropping a unanimous decision to Erik Koch at UFC Fight Night 25.

One year the elder of his opponent, Yahya, 27, has fought at lightweight, featherweight and bantamweight over the course of his nine-year career. In January, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace returned to the featherweight ranks after a stretch at 135 pounds, earning a hard-fought win over former WEC champion Mike Thomas Brown. Yahya would fall in his next outing, however, losing to No. 1 contender Chad Mendes in a unanimous verdict at UFC 133.

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