The UFC's return to England in a few weeks for UFC 138 in Birmingham has already been vexed by several fighters bowing out of their fights due to injury, and there doesn't appear to be any end to that in sight, as the UFC announced a few more changes yesterday:
In heavyweight news, Oli Thompson has been forced to withdraw from the event due to injury. Original opponent Phil De Fries has verbally agreed a matchup against fellow Englishman Rob Broughton, who will return to his home country to fight after appearing at UFC 135 in Denver last month.
Rising Brit welterweight John Hathaway has been forced to withdraw from UFC 138 as well. His original opponent, Matt Brown, has verbally agreed to face "The Polish Pistola" Seth Baczynski instead. Brown vs. Baczynski will take place at UFC 139 on November 19 in San Jose, CA.
So just to recap: Oli Thompson is injured and will be replaced by Rob Broughton in an all-British heavyweight fight against Philip De Fries. Additionally, John Hathaway has suffered an injury, and instead of finding a new opponent for Matt Brown on the England card, they've moved him to the San Jose card a few weeks later to face Seth Baczynski.
Broughton will be happy to fighting in his native England, but he certainly should worry about his job security as well, after an embarrassing performance against Travis Browne at UFC 135 that saw both men succumb to the stamina issues that often plague big men competing at high altitudes. DeFries is a UFC newcomer and a submission specialist, something that's not too common among British heavyweights, but Broughton is a solid grappler himself and should be able to use his size and top game to control DeFries, as long as the short notice doesn't affect his conditioning.
Brown vs. Baczynski should be an exciting fight for the San Jose crowd, as both men have shown the ability to finish fights on the feet and on the ground. Baczynski made the most of his second chance in the UFC, demolishing Clay Harvison at UFN 25 in September, while Brown finds himself perpetually on the verge of being cut, but his style definitely appeals to the fans, and likely to the UFC brass as well, who often end up rewarding exciting fighters much moreso than talented ones.