Bantamweight contender T.J. Dillashaw went from a main card fight vs. Takeya Mizugaki to a main event title shot against champion Renan Barao. It didn't take long for UFC officials to find a replacement, as Francisco Rivera has stepped up to the plate for what is his most important fight to date in the weight class. MMA Junkie first reported the news.
Rivera (10-2, 1 NC) has been excellent since he was brought back to the UFC fold in 2012. He's unbeaten in his last 6 fights, and his TKO win over George Roop elevated him to a February fight with Raphael Assuncao before withdrawing due to injury. Rivera is known as a vicious knockout puncher and is easily one of the most dangerous punchers in the UFC's bantamweight division.
Mizugaki (19-7-2) has won his last 4, with his last one coming via decision over Nam Phan. The former WEC title contender hasn't beaten a murderer's row during his streak, and Phan certainly isn't the cream of the crop, but his victory vs. Erik Perez probably stands as his best win.
An interesting factoid, these two were matched up for a Versus show in March 2011, but Rivera pulled out with an injury and was replaced by Reuben Duran, who would submit Rivera three months later and briefly send him out of the UFC.
Both men are ranked in the top 10 (Rivera #10, Mizugaki #7), so this is a good replacement opponent for Mizugaki and a big chance for the winner to move closer towards a title fight.