Hazelett vs. Saunders on Tap for UFC 96 in Columbus

Sherdog.com is reporting that Dustin Hazelett and Ben Saunders are close to signing bout agreements for a match-up at UFC 96. This will mark a quick turnaround for both fighters, as Hazelett recently defeated Tamdan McCrory at UFC 91, and Saunders recently beat Brandon Wolff at UFN 17.

Full details and a link to Sherdog's post after the jump.

Barring any last-minute glitches, fast-rising welterweight prospect Dustin Hazelett will lock horns with unbeaten Ben Saunders at UFC 96 on March 7 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Bout agreements have been issued and are expected to be signed sometime this week, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Hazelett (12-4) dazzled in recent outings, as he has earned “Submission of the Night” bonuses in each of his last two appearances inside the Octagon. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Jorge Gurgel, the 22-year-old coaxed a tapout from Tamdan McCrory at UFC 91 in November, as he transitioned from an omaplata to a reverse armbar. Previous to that victory, he submitted Josh Burkman with a spectacular armbar at “The Ultimate Fighter 7” Finale in June. Hazelett has posted five wins in six bouts, losing only to Josh Koscheck in that stretch.

Based out of American Top Team, Saunders (7-0-2) raised some eyebrows last month when he battered Brandon Wolff with a series of knees from the Thai clinch at UFC Fight Night 17. The one-sided bout lasted only 1:49 and gave Saunders his seventh consecutive victory. A product of season six of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the 6-foot-2 former Combat Fighting Championships welterweight titleholder has finished six of his seven victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

I hope this bout does work out, because I think this would be a great match-up. Hazelett will look to continue on his streak to become the UFC fighter to earn the most "Submission of the Night" bonuses, and Saunders will look to see if he can top his win over Wolff, where he practically rearranged Wolff's face with some nasty knees from the clinch a la Anderson Silva. Saunders will definitely be looking to keep Hazelett at bay with his reach, but Saunders' reach is exactly what could get him in trouble with a guy like Hazelett.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this match live.


(For the full story, head over to Sherdog.)

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