Opponent switches are seldom “groovy,” but at least Lando Vannata has plenty of notice.
Vannata was scheduled to meet fellow lightweight contender Abel Trujillo at UFC 216, scheduled for Oct. 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Monday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that the Jackson-Wink MMA product would no longer be facing Trujillo, but would now be taking on “King” Bobby Green instead. The promotion did not give a reason for Trujillo's removal from the contest.
Green, 30, has had a rough slide over the last three years under UFC employ. Since his July 2014 split decision win over Josh Thomson, “King” has suffered three straight losses to Edson Barboza, Dustin Poirier and most recently this past April at UFC on Fox 24, Rashid Magomedov. In addition to the three-bout losing streak, Green has pulled out of several contests, citing personal issues and a spate of injuries, including a ACL and quadriceps.
The 25-year-old Vannata burst into the wider MMA consciousness in July 2016, when he stepped in for an injured Michael Chiesa to face top 155-pound contender Tony Ferguson, rocking “El Cucuy” and nearly putting him away in the first round before succumbing to a brabo choke in the second stanza. After a highlight-reel knockout of John Makdessi at UFC 206 in December, “Groovy Lando” was upset in one of 2017's biggest surprises so far, dropping a sound unanimous decision to Sweden's David Teymur at UFC 209 in March.
UFC 216 has nearly a fully confirmed undercard -- including bouts such as Jessica Eye-Paige VanZant, Magomed Bibulatov-John Moraga, Will Brooks-Nik Lentz and Beneil Dariush-Evan Dunham – but the company has yet to announce a main event for the pay-per-view bill. The UFC is currently negotiating a heavyweight title clash between reigning ace Stipe Miocic and former two-time titlist Cain Velasquez to top the card.