At UFC on ESPN+ 12 on Saturday night, Matt Wiman will fight for the first time in 1,673 days.
The 35-year-old lightweight hasn’t competed since November 2014, when he defeated Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC Fight Night 57. When Wiman (16-7, 10-5 UFC) last made the walk to the cage, the promotion hadn’t entered the Reebok era, Barack Obama was midway through his second term, and Conor McGregor hadn’t fought on a pay-per-view.
No one was more surprised to hear of Wiman’s return than Luis Pena, his opponent Saturday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Pena told MMA Junkie. “They said Matt Wiman – I thought that guy was retired. He hasn’t fought since the fight with Isaac Vallie-Flagg, and then he tried to come back in 2015. He pulled out with a back injury. I was a little surprised, but at the same time, it’s just another name on the contract.”
A veteran of Season 27 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Pena (6-1, 2-1 UFC) is trying to focus most of his energy on the controllable – what he brings to the table with his abilities. However, the 25-year-old lightweight admitted there are challenges preparing for an opponent who hasn’t competed in almost five years.
“I am super focused on myself and getting better and being in the best shape possible for this fight,” Pena said. “But at the same time, I can’t lie. It is a little difficult to form a gameplan because all of my fights in the UFC [my coaches] have essentially formed some pretty good gameplans to take these guys out.
“With this matchup, we don’t really know where to go. You look at his early fights, he likes to take guys to the ground and beat them up. You look at his later fights, he likes to stand up and beat them up. It’s kind of like a catch-22. What are we going to get? I’m just kind of preparing for the best Matt Wiman I’m going to see.”
Regardless of which version of Wiman enters the cage Saturday, “Violent Bob Ross” thinks their meeting is the odds-on favorite to win the UFC’s “Fight of the Night” bonus.
“This is the biggest candidate for ‘Fight of the Night,’ just looking at the card right now,” Pena said. “We’re both guys who like to come forward and like to fight. We like to throw hands. I feel like both of our styles match up well for the fans.
“You can expect pure violence from this fight – bell-to-bell violence.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC Greenville: Luis Pena admits challenges preparing for Wiman, but predicts 'bell-to-bell violence'