Did UFC drop the ball not adding Nashville’s Luke Sanders to Saturday’s card?

luke sanders-head shot

UFC Fight Night 73 takes place this weekend in Nashville, Tenn. and is headlined with a light heavyweight match-up between former UT Vols linebacker Ovince Saint Preux and hard-hitting Brazilian Glover Teixeira. Ovince resides in East Tennessee and trains in the area, as does former XFC lightweight champ Scott Holtzman who is making his debut in the night’s first preliminary card bout on Fight Pass.

Another fighter tied to the area fighting on this card is Dustin Ortiz, who is originally from Franklin, just outside Nashville. He now trains out of Roufusport in Milwaukee and makes his home there.

Here’s the full UFC Fight Night 73 line-up:

Main Card (Fox Sports 1)

  • Light Heavyweight Glover Teixeira vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Lightweight Michael Johnson vs. Beneil Dariush
  • Middleweight Derek Brunson vs. Sam Alvey
  • Heavyweight Jared Rosholt vs. Timothy Johnson
  • Middleweight Chris Camozzi vs. Tom Watson
  • Flyweight Ray Borg vs. Geane Herrera

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 2)

  • Middleweight Uriah Hall vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
  • Women’s Bantamweight Sara McMann vs. Amanda Nunes
  • Flyweight Dustin Ortiz vs. Willie Gates
  • Bantamweight Frankie Saenz vs. Sirwan Kakai

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

  • Light Heavyweight Chris Dempsey vs. Jonathan Wilson
  • Bantamweight Marlon Vera vs. Roman Salazar
  • Lightweight Anthony Christodoulou vs. Scott Holtzman

It’s a solid card with some good names. But I’m pretty sure there’s at least one or two names on there you’re not familiar with. Why would the UFC not put a hometown MMA hero like current RFA bantamweight champ Luke Sanders on the card? He’s from Nashville, still lives there, trains there — and the UFC has a history of signing RFA champions and talent. There must be some reason they haven’t picked up “Cool Hand” yet and the word that we’ve heard is “we’re not signing anyone new right now.”

That’s understandable.

The company has been going through a lot of changes with Reebok, Jon Jones, Travis Browne and whatever other “bad shit” Dana White wakes up to everyday. One of his famous quotes is about “bad shit” happening every day he wakes up. It’s part of the job. Okay.

But you like money right? You’re in the MMA business, right? So it seems like easy pickings from where I’m sitting. RFA has sent in excess of 30 fighters to the UFC so far, and Sanders is the longest reigning RFA champion that has yet to be picked up by MMA’s flagship organization. There have been inquiries from other promotions but the UFC just hasn’t been signing much new talent lately.

They do have 13 fights on the card, that is a lot and one could argue there were no more spots. But bouts are switched around all the time and Luke’s last title defense was in May when he beat Terrion Ware in the RFA vs. Legacy AXStv Superfight co-main event to improve his record to 10-0. There’s been plenty of time to get it done if they wanted to get it done.

Here’s the current UFC bantamweight rankings:

Champion : TJ Dillashaw
1 Renan Barao
2 Dominick Cruz
3 Raphael Assuncao
4 Urijah Faber
5 Michael McDonald
6 Bryan Caraway
7 Aljamain Sterling
8 Takeya Mizugaki
9 Johnny Eduardo
10 Thomas Almeida
11 Eddie Wineland
12 Francisco Rivera
13 Iuri Alcantara
14 Frankie Saenz
15 Erik Perez

Sanders would fit right in there and be very competitive in my opinion. If not now, when? This is the first time the UFC has been to Nashville in years. It was in 2013 when the promotion did a Fight for the Troops at Ft. Campbell which is about an hour north, but that was only for the troops. The UFC hasn’t held a show in Nashville since 2012 and because they come to Music City so rarely, they seemed to have dropped the ball by not putting Luke Sanders on this card.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Sanders, check out the highlight reel and interview below:

Following his RFA title win:

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