Contrary to what Nam Phan tweeted last month, he won’t be replacing injured Leonard Garcia to fight Tiequan Zhang at UFC 144. Instead, the organization announced Issei Tamura has agreed to serve as a last-minute substitute to face Zhang inside Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
No word on why Phan was unable to provide the “Asian on Asian crime” he had promised less than two weeks ago.
Tamura makes his big league debut having dropped two of his past three scraps. He owns a 6-2 record, with five of his wins coming by way of the judges’ scorecards.
Zhang has posted the same mark over his last three contests. The Chinese fighter most recently dropped a unanimous decision loss to Darren Elkins at UFC 136.
The event takes place Sunday, February 26th inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama in order to accommodate a Saturday, February 25th 10PM ET/7PM PT start time in North America. The main card airs live on pay-per-view.
A lightweight title tilt between champion Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson headlines the festivities.
Here is the card’s complete roster:
Tiequan Zhang vs. Issei Tamura
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
Steve Cantwell vs. Riki Fukuda
(FX 8PM ET/5PM PT)
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
(Pay-Per-View 10PM ET/7PM PT)
Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis
Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar (UFC Lightweight Champion)