UFC

UFC 168 adds two barnburners

Uriah Hall, Chris Leben, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier
UFC 168 grows its blockbuster card with Hall vs. Leben and Brandao vs. Poirier.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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The UFC’s year-end card is only about halfway completed, yet it’s fair to say it’s loaded with talent. On Thursday, two more additions were made to the Dec. 28 show, including one that features a highly ranked featherweight.

Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao has been agreed upon for UFC 168, along with a matchup between recent Ultimate Fighter star Uriah Hall and slugger Chris Leben.

Poirier, who is currently No. 5 in the UFC rankings, has won two of his last three, including a dominant win over Erik Koch at UFC 164 last month. He’s 14-3 overall.

His opponent Brandao (18-8) won TUF season 14, and is currently enjoying a three-fight win streak, with victories over Daniel Pineda, Pablo Garza and Joey Gambino.

Meanwhile, the Hall-Leben bout may feature two fighters facing their last opportunity to hold on to a UFC roster spot.

Hall (7-4) burst on to the scene on TUF 17 with a pair of memorable knockouts, but has struggled to find the same success since, losing a pair of lackluster split-decisions to Kelvin Gastelum and John Howard, respectively.

UFC president Dana White has been publicly critical of Hall, but said on Thursday that Hall told him the comments have lit a fire underneath him. He’s going to need it to beat Leben (22-10), a longtime UFC staple who has hit hard times, losing three straight including a recent split-decision to Andrew Craig. White believes a loss may suggest that it’s time for “the Crippler” to hang up his gloves. He’s been in the UFC since 2005, debuting as a member of the original cast of TUF.

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