Featherweights, Jonathan Brookins and Vagner Rocha, both found themselves in need of new opponents after seeing their previously scheduled foes (Rani Yahya for Brookins and Mike Brown for Rocha) bow out due to injury. Seeing the simple solution here, the UFC decided to match up Brookins and Rocha for the UFC on Fuel 1 card in Omaha on February 15th. Additionally, TUF 14 bantamweight runner-up, T.J. Dillashaw will face Walel Watson on the same card:
@FUELTV in Omaha gets @TJDillashaw vs. @135Gazelle Watson and @j_brookins vs. @Vagner_Rocha ... shall we go on?
Brookins and Rocha shouldn't have to change up their strategies too much as their previous opponents possessed similar skill-sets, with Rocha's BJJ-centric style similar to that of Yahya, and Brookins employing a strong, top-control based wrestling game like Mike Brown (although Brown has much better striking than Brookins...one less thing for Rocha to worry about).
Dillashaw was an early favorite to win his season of TUF in the bantamweight division and he did make it all the way to the finals, but a well-placed left hook from John Dodson turned off Dillashaw's lights and his hopes of becoming a TUF champion. Nonetheless, Dillashaw has the skill-set and the training at Team Alpha Male to give many bantamweights, fits. Watson is coming off a razor-thin split decision loss to Yves Jabouin at UFC 140 in a bout that many fans scored in favor of Watson. It was no consolation to "The Gazelle" though and he clearly wanted to get back in action as soon as possible to look for a more decisive victory.
The UFC on Fuel 1 card now includes:
-Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger
-Stefan Struve vs. Dave Herman
-Stipe Miocic vs. Philip De Fries
-Jonathan Brookins vs. Vagner Rocha
-T.J. Dillashaw vs. Walel Watson
-Ivan Menjivar vs. John Albert
-Aaron Simpson vs. Ronny Markes