Bantamweights now part of six-fight pay-per-view portion
For the second straight pay-per-view event, the UFC is raising the bar for the main card.
UFC 145, which takes place next month in Atlanta, now will feature six fights on the main card instead of the traditional five. Thursday night, the UFC announced the promotion of a bantamweight fight between former WEC champion Miguel Torres and Michael McDonald from the preliminary card to the middle of the pay-per-view.
Last month at UFC 144, the promotion's return to Japan for the first time since 2000, a whopping seven fights were featured on the main card pay-per-view. Torres-McDonald had been slated to close out the prelims portion of the event that is to be broadcast on the FX cable network. That FX broadcast still will feature four fights, and two others from the 12-fight card are expected to stream live on the UFC's Facebook page.
Torres (40-4, 2-1 UFC), who splits his training time between Tristar Gym in Montreal with Firas Zahabi and the Imperial Athletics "Blackzilians" camp in South Florida, said being back on a pay-per-view has a personal meaning to him. Torres made his UFC debut at UFC 126 in a main-card slot against Antonio Banuelos. But his fights at UFC 130 and UFC 139 took place on the prelims.
"Fighting on pay-per-view is special to me," Torres said. "I would watch the big boxing cards with my father as a kid, and my father would well up with pride and emotion when guys like Julio Cesar Chavez fought. I'd never seen my father show so much emotion, and I'm proud to become an extension of that great Mexican fighting legacy in the UFC."
Torres was at the center of some controversy in December when he was released from the UFC after a controversial Tweet. But after proving to Dana White he was remorseful, and after making donations and visiting rape crisis centers in the Chicago area, the UFC president brought him back to the company three weeks later. Torres has won three of his last four fights since the only losing streak of his lengthy career, which included a WEC bantamweight title loss to Brian Bowles in August 2009. His only loss in the UFC was a split decision setback to Demetrious Johnson that many observers scored in his favor. Johnson went on to get a shot at champion Dominick Cruz, a fight he lost by unanimous decision in October.
McDonald (14-1, 3-0 UFC), one of the UFC's youngest fighters at 21, has been fighting since he was 16. He enters the fight with Torres on a seven-fight winning streak, including 4-0 in Zuffa and 3-0 in the UFC. He picked up a Knockout of the Night win over Alex Soto at UFC 139 in November, his most impressive performance since signing with the UFC. He also won Fight of the Night honors for a scorecard sweep of Edwin Figueroa in his UFC debut at Fight Night 24 a year ago.
But Torres presents to McDonald the most experienced and successful fighter he will have faced in his career.
"I think Miguel Torres is definitely the most significant opponent I've ever faced on a business perspective," McDonald said. "Now it’s my chance to prove to myself that I can do what I think I can do on a huge pay-per-view event.”
UFC 145 takes place April 21 at Philips Arena in Atlanta and will be the UFC's first trip to Georgia's capital city since UFC 88 in September 2008. On that card, Rashad Evans knocked out Chuck Liddell in the second round of their main event light heavyweight fight, then went on to get a shot at then-champion Forrest Griffin's title. He won the belt at UFC 92, then lost it in his first defense at UFC 98.
That 205-pound title is now held by Evans' former friend and training partner Jon Jones, whom he challenges in the UFC 145 main event – one of the most anticipated grudge matches in UFC history. The co-main event is a welterweight contenders bout between the fast-rising Rory MacDonald and England's Che Mills.
The full card is listed below:
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
Mark Bocek vs. Matt Wiman
Preliminary Card (FX)
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements
Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco