Though it was unfortunate to see Lyoto Machida removed from his rumble with Kennedy, it didn’t take the UFC long to find an adequate replacement. Natal is on a three-fight winning streak, so he deserves the opportunity from that standpoint, and he was already training for a tilt in November so he’ll be in top shape as well. Natal’s skill-set should also make for a more interesting clash with Kennedy come showtime, as they’re not only evenly matched but the Brazilian takes a more aggressive approach to competition than the notoriously elusive Machida. Mizugaki is as tough as they come at 135 pounds and has been in the zone as of late, winning three straight showdowns including recent success against Bryan Caraway and Erik Perez. However, Phan is a rock in his own right, showing toughness and talent in a career dotted with wins over opponents like Cole Miller and Leonard Garcia. Also notable, Phan will be making his bantamweight debut in the bout, so it should be interesting to see if the cut affects him in a positive or negative way. Fortunately, like fans, the matchmaking team doesn’t like controversial results and decided to book these two for a rematch after their initial encounter in August ended with a No Contest due to an errant, illegal knee to a downed Bowling. Neither man is afraid to engage, so it’s likely the two will pick back up where they left off by throwing strikes with bad intent and scrambling for submission attempts. Bowling has notched TKO wins in seven of his eleven victories, while Trujillo has shown an ability to finish foes whether standing or on the ground. The match-up may not be deserving of a main card slot but it should still be an entertaining effort nonetheless. This flyweight fight has Fight of the Night potential written all over it. While Moraga and Uyenoyama are coming off losses, neither stumble was necessarily an upset considering the defeats came to champion Demetrious Johnson and top contender Joseph Benavidez respectively. Moraga doesn’t mind slugging it out but actually excels on the ground, while Uyenoyama is the opposite as far as being a mat-based technician with stand-up skills to boot. Additionally, when they meet in December, not only will status in a wide-open decision be up for grabs but both will attempt to avoid the first two-fight skid of their still-blossoming careers. Tavares was originally scheduled to meet Quinn Mulhern at the November 9 event before an injury laid waste to those plans. Without skipping a beat, the UFC brought in Justin Salas to see if the well-rounded 31-year old can build off his hard-fought win against Aaron Riley. He’s also got victories over veterans like Rob Emerson and Anton Kuivanen, but Salas has yet to find success against someone with the Brazilian’s notoriety. Meanwhile, Tavares should be out for blood after suffering a first-frame TKO in his previous pairing in hopes of picking back up where the submission specialist left off prior to the defeat when he beat Sam Stout/Spencer Fisher in back-to-back bouts. If the last name of Lee’s opponent looks familiar it’s because older brother Anthony is the current UFC lightweight champ. The younger Pettis, who turned twenty in August, has shown some of the same flashes of brilliance on the regional scene his title-toting sibling displays on a regular basis in the Octagon. He’s explosive while standing and solid on the ground, serving as one of the hottest 125-pound prospects to show up in years. Pettis should have his hands full with Lee, a man who already has five UFC fights under his belt including a memorable submission of “Kid” Yamamoto back in February 2012.
UFC’s matchmaking team has been busy as of late, rounding up replacements for a handful of outings affected by injury withdrawals and booking new bouts. Though only one of the efforts is main event material, the fights all look good on paper and should end up producing a handful of highlights come showtime. From longtime veterans of the Octagon to a heavily-hyped newcomer, here are the five newest fights destined for the infamous eight-sided cage. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)