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Thomas Almeida injured, Frankie Saenz now fights Marlon Vera at UFC 235

Thomas Almeida’s return to the Octagon will have to wait a little bit longer.

MMA: UFC 220- Almeida vs Font Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Once considered a top prospect, Brazilian UFC bantamweight Thomas Almeida has had a rough patch as of late, and now injury will delay his 2019 debut.

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported on Friday that Almeida is out of his matchup with Marlon Vera, which was scheduled for UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2nd. He has since been replaced by Frankie Saenz. Vera tweeted news of Almeida’s undisclosed injury on Thursday.

Almeida (21-3) began his MMA career 20-0 and one of the most exciting strikers in the sport. He experienced his first loss in May 2016, when he was knocked out by Cody Garbrandt. After a TKO of Albert Morales later that November, Almeida dropped a decision to Jimmie Rivera in 2017, and was most recently knocked out by Rob Font at UFC 220 in January 2018. He was slated to fight Cory Sandhagen at UFC Brooklyn last month, but that was later scrapped.

As for the new fight, Saenz (13-5) is on a two-fight winning streak, having most recently won a decision over Henry Briones at UFC Chile last May. The 38-year-old has a 5-3 overall UFC record, although two of those losses have notably come against former WEC champions Eddie Wineland and Urijah Faber. Vera (12-5-1) has also won his last two fights, stopping Wuliji Buren at UFC 227 and choking out Guido Cannetti at UFC Buenos Aires in November. “Chito” is 6-4 inside the Octagon, with five of those wins coming by stoppage.

UFC 235 features a light heavyweight title main event between Jon Jones and Anthony Smith, while welterweight champion Tyron Woodley defends his belt against Kamaru Usman.