The following is provided courtesy of UFC.com:
2007 has seen the UFC’s light heavyweight division became the most talent-rich weight class in the world. At UFC 79, which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on December 29th, fight fans will get a glimpse of the newest addition to the 205-pound ranks as “The African Assassin”, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, makes his UFC debut against unbeaten sharpshooter Lyoto Machida.
“Sokoudjou is an explosive athlete with heavy hands and great judo who is coming off huge back-to-back knockout wins over two top ten guys in Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira,” said UFC President Dana White. “Bringing him in just makes the stacked 205-pound division even stronger, and there are endless great matchups for him here in the UFC.”
A highly regarded judoka who won the 2001 US Open, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (4-1) moved to the United States from his native Cameroon in 2001, and by 2004, he had turned his attention to mixed martial arts. He made his MMA debut in 2006, and by 2007 he was brought in to fight in the PRIDE organization. It was there that Sokoudjou truly made his mark as he knocked out world-class light heavyweights Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in consecutive bouts, with neither fight making it out of the second minute. A member of the renowned Team Quest in California, the 23-year old Sokoudjou comes to the Octagon with great potential and even greater expectations.
Unbeaten in 11 pro fights, Brazil’s Lyoto Machida is one of the most accurate and technical strikers in the game today. Owner of wins over BJ Penn, Rich Franklin, and Stephan Bonnar, Machida entered the UFC Octagon for the first time in February of 2007 and he has since scored wins over Sam Hoger and David Heath. In September, Machida fought the most impressive fight of his UFC career when he soundly outpointed PRIDE vet Kazuhiro Nakamura. On December 29th, he will be pushed to the limit by the hard-hitting Sokoudjou.
“I’m looking very forward to this fight,” said Machida. “I know Sokoudjou doesn’t have a lot of fights, but the fights he’s had are big, and he has beaten some very big names in this sport. I think this is going to be a great fight, and I am looking forward to winning this fight, and to moving on and fighting for the UFC title.”
“Machida needs to fight a guy who will come right after him, keep the pressure on him, and set the pace, instead of Machida setting the pace,” said White. “Sokoudjou’s that type of guy.”
Tickets for UFC 79 – which features the UFC Welterweight Championship bout between Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, and the long-awaited Superfight between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva – are on sale now.