The UFC is returning to the Sunshine State and this time they’re making their debut in a city that is known for its love of MMA: Tampa, Florida.

Joe Lauzon recently announced on his website that he will be facing Hermes Franca at Ultimate Fight NIght 17 at the USF Sundome.

Cain Velasquez confirmed the date as February 7 and the Sundome venue in a interview with Steve Cofield of ESPN Radio. The event will be televised on Spike TV.

Ultimate Fight Night 17 appears to be slated with several fights that figure to be action-packed matches including “The Ultimate Fighter 6” winner Mac Danzig vs. Josh Neer, “The Ultimate Fighter 7” winner Amir Sadollah vs. Nick Catone, Rob Emerson vs. Kurt Pellegrino, and heavyweight Cain Velasquez vs. a yet-to-be-named fighter.

The Tampa area has been a huge supporter of MMA in recent years. Three regional promoters, Real Fighting Championships (, World Fighting Championships (, and Xtreme Fighting Championships ( have been holding shows in the area with successful results.

The venue, the USF Sundome, is a strategic selection as it is next door to the University of South Tampa, and has hosted events from both the Real Fighting Championships and World Fighting Championships.

The UFC has not yet announced the event, but is expected to do so shortly. It will mark the third event the UFC will present in a matter of three short weeks with UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson on January 17, UFC 94: St-Pierre vs. Penn II on January 31, and UFC Fight Night 17 on February 7.

-Doug Drexler

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