There are times when a UFC fight gets a whole lot more interesting due to a late change of opponents. Over the course of the past three days, that has happened twice.
In the most time-sensitive switch, Chris Wilson was scratched from Saturday's UFC 98 card with barely two days' notice, after the Nevada State Athletic Commission could not get Wilson's doctor on the phone to provide necessary medical information. The NSAC reportedly left numerous messages for the doctor and simply never got a call back. As a result, the commission was left with no choice but to pull Wilson from the show.
Wilson's replacement against Brock Larson will be Mike "Quicksand" Pyle (17-5-1), an Xtreme Couture fighter making his UFC debut after lots of experience elsewhere, including EliteXC, Affliction, Strikeforce, WEC and the IFL. Pyle has won his last four fights (all via submission), and six of his past seven bouts. Pyle's only loss during that stretch was to Jake Shields in Nov. 2007.
Earlier this week, another late switch resulted in an intriguing heavyweight battle that just might put the winner on the radar for a possible title shot vs. Brock Lesnar (or Frank Mir , pending the outcome of that title fight at July's UFC 100).
"The Texas Crazy Horse" Heath Herring pulled out of his UFC 99 bout vs. up-and-comer Cain Velasquez on June 13 in Germany, citing either illness (as reported by MMA FanHouse) or injury (as reported by the UFC) as the cause. Either way, his replacement is a solid test for the former collegiate wrestling standout, as Velasquez will now battle Cheick Kongo .
Kongo (14-4-1, 7-2-0 UFC) has won five of his last six fights, with the only loss in that time frame coming at the hands of Herring in March of 2008. Since then, Kongo has made quick work of Dan Evensen , Mustapha Al-Turk and Antoni Hardonk .
Velasquez (5-0-0, 3-0-0 UFC) won his first four fights via knockout in the first round, and his most recent bout -- vs. Denis Stojnic at February's UFC Fight Night 17 -- via TKO at 2:34 of Round 2.
A standout wrestler at Arizona State, Velsaquez has the athleticism, punching power and solid wrestling base that has many observers calling him the future of the UFC heavyweight division, and a potential rival to Lesnar in years to come.