A matchup between up and coming welterweight prospects Dustin Hazelett and Ben Saunders is close to being finalized for UFC 96 on March 7.
The news comes courtesy of a report on MMAjunkie.com, which is reporting that bout agreements for the fight have yet to be signed.
Hazelett, 12-4, has been rising through the deep ranks of the UFC’s 170 pound division thanks to exciting performances in his last two fights that have earned him a total of $105,000 in the form of three “Fight Night” bonuses.
A member of Team Jorge Gurgel, Hazelett improved his lifetime UFC record to 5-2 with consecutive wins over Josh Burkman during the live finale for the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter and Tamdan McCrory at UFC 91. Both victories earned Hazelett “Submission of the Night” honors.
Saunders is a veteran from the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter and has yet to be beaten in nine professional fights. He improved his record to 7-0-2 during UFC’s “Fight for the Troops” event last month after recording a first round TKO over Brandon Wolff.
A member of American Top Team, Saunders put on what might have been his most impressive performance to date by catching Wolff in a Thai clinch and delivering repeated knees to his face and body that forced the referee to call a stop to the bout just one minute and 49 seconds into the contest. The win improved Saunders career record in the Octagon to 3-0.
UFC 96 will take place in Columbus, Ohio and emanate from the Nationwide Arena. Other bouts currently expected for the event include Jim Miller vs. Gray Maynard, Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, and Kendall Grove vs. Jason Day.