Meet your UFC rookies: UFN 18 & UFC 97

Jesse Sanders: UFC rookie fighting at UFN 18 vs. Brock Larson

It is time once again for PRO MMA ( to release our UFC rookie update. What we try to do is give our readers the opportunity to at least get somewhat familiar with UFC newcomers who will be appearing on upcoming cards. In this edition of “Meet your UFC rookies” we will take a look at the next two UFC cards; Ultimate Fight Night 18 and UFC 97: Redemption. Just on these two cards alone, there will be seven fighters who have never fought in the UFC. Some of them most likely you have heard of or seen fight and there are probably one or two you have not. So take a couple of minutes and get to know the new blood. It is quite possible one of these newcomers could be a future UFC champion.

Steve Steinbeiss (4-2): Steinbeiss is a middleweight who is coming over to the UFC after one fight in the WEC where he lost a split decision to Carmelo Marrero. Steinbeiss is a U.K. transplant who now trains at Arizona Combat Sports with Ryan Bader, C.B. Dolloway and the rest of the gang. He is also part of the MTX Audio crew.Steinbeiss was undefeated in K-1 and is known as a dangerous striker.  Steinbeiss will make his first UFC appearance at UFC Fight Night 18 against Ryan Jensen (14-4) on April 1.

Aaron Simpson (4-0): Born in Colorado, Simpson is another Arizona Combat Sports middleweight coming to the UFC after one fight in the WEC. He defeated David Avellan at WEC 36. He spent nine years at Arizona State University as an assistant Wrestling Coach and one year at Cal Poly as assistant Wrestling Coach. He was 142-1 in high school wrestling. Obviously, Simpson has an incredible wrestling base however, he has ended all of his professional fights by (T)KO. He won his second pro fight against Scott Dingman in the Tuff-N-Uff organization. Aaron will make his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 18 against Tim McKenzie (12-5).

Nissen Osterneck (5-1): Born in Maui, Hawaii, now living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Nissen Osterneck is a middleweight and coming to the big show after one fight in the WEC where he lost to Jake Rosholt by TKO in round 2. Prior to that he was on a five fight win streak and was coming off a quick first round submission by punches victory over Freddie Espiricueta at HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon. Nissen is a purple belt under Relson Gracie. He submitted 13 people in one day when he won the 2005 Gracie Nationals. Nissen will make his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 18 against Jorge Rivera (15-7).

Jesse Sanders (20-4): Born and still fighting out of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Jesse Sanders is the Extreme Challenge Middleweight Champion. He was also a Golden Gloves Champion and a two time tough man champion. He started fighting MMA professionally in 2006 and with twenty-four fights already under his belt, he has been setting an extremely active pace. In twenty-four fights, Jesse Sanders has been to a decision only ONE time. He is on a six fight win streak, last defeating John Schwering at Extreme Challenge by second round submission in October ’08. Jesse will make his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 18 against Brock Larson (25-2).

T.J. Grant (13-2): T.J. Grant is a twenty-five year old Canadian welterweight who has fought in such organizations as King of the Cage and TKO among others. He is on a four fight win streak with his last victory coming by way of arm bar submission over Beau Baker in November ’08 at PFP in Canada. Just prior to that, he defeated Forrest Petz at TKO 35. In fifteen fights Grant has only been to one decision. All of his wins except one have come by submission. T.J. Grant’s first appearance in the Octagon will be at UFC 97 when he takes on the very tough, Ryo Chonan (15-9).

Xavier Foupa-Pokam (20-9): Xavier Foupa-Pokam, better known as “Professor X”, is a twenty-seven year old middleweight from Paris, France, who made a name for himself in England’s Cage Rage promotion. Xavier is on a seven fight win streak. He last fought in January ’09 against Kyacey Uscola at Palace Fighting Championship. Having turned pro in 2002, he has been in the cage with some big names such as “Ninja” Rua and Paul Daley. However, “Professor X’s” toughest test to date will be his next fight when he makes his UFC debut against Denis Kang (31-11-1) at UFC 97 in Montreal.

Brian Stann (6-1): Brian Stann is twenty-eight years old and resides in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is a Marine Corps Officer and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is coming to the UFC from the WEC light heavyweight division. Stann had a very memorable fight with Doug Marshall at WEC 33 in which he knocked out “the Rhino” in the first round. Stann has some heavy hands and will stand and trade with anyone, however, he lost his last bout which was against Steve Cantwell at WEC 35 in August ’08. Brian Stann will finally make his UFC appearance at UFC 97 when he takes on Krzysztof Soszynski (17-9-1).

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