John Howard is hoping a return to welterweight at UFC 168 will help him look more impressive than he did in his Octagon return after a two-year absence. While Howard did get a split decision victory in a middleweight matchup against Uriah Hall at Fight Night 26 in Boston, the result did little to raise Howard’s stock because of the desultory nature of the fight.
Howard will be meeting a big-time finisher in Siyar Bahadurzada. The Afghan native entered the organization with plenty of hype, but unfortunately, his time in the promotion has been plagued by injuries. He entered the 170-pound division with a bang by blasting out Paulo Thiago in just 42 seconds, but since that time, he’s had just one fight. To make matters worse, that one bout was a lopsided decision loss to Dong Hyun Kim, who completely negated Bahadurzada’s effective striking game with a smothering grappling game. “The Great” has been forced out of three scheduled fights due to injuries, including what would have been a high profile opportunity against Robbie Lawler at UFC on FOX 8.
“Doomsday” has nine knockouts and six submission victories in 21 career wins. In his previous stint, he faced the likes of Matt Brown, Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger, albeit in losing efforts. Howard is relishing the opportunity to stand and trade against an opponent who employs a similar mindset and is riding high in confidence, having put together a 7-1 record in his last eight fights.
Both men need an impressive performance, and this type of matchup has the makings to allow them to do that. Bahadurzada has almost become a forgotten figure in the division after a poor showing against Kim and the injury frustrations, while Howard is hoping he can shine in the new weight class. You can bank that both competitors will be looking to make a major statement by recording a knockout victory this coming weekend in Las Vegas.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.