One of the more surprising announcement made by the UFC in 2017 was that of the signing of kickboxing champion Gökhan Saki to their light heavyweight division. The news broke this past May and his debut was surrounded by speculation, especially in a year whose theme within the combat sports world could be, ‘crossover’.
Saki silenced some of that doubt with a violent finish of Henrique da Silva back in September in his UFC debut.
A second fight was booked shortly after between Saki and Khalil Rountree. The bout was expected to take place on December 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unfortunately, Saki has been forced out of this bout with a knee injury, according to Damon Martin of NerdcoreMovement.com:
It also appears Gokhan Saki is OUT of UFC 219.
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) November 29, 2017
Saki’s absence has given way to the UFC debut of Michal Oleksiejczuk who will step up to the biggest stage in MMA to replace a combat sports legend. The Polish fighter was expected to debut at UFC 217 against Ion Cuțelaba until the fight was cancelled when Cuțelaba was flagged for a potential anti-doping violation. Oleksiejczuk was a late replacement for that bout as well when stepping in for the injured Gadzhimurad Antigulov.
Oleksiejczuk is just 22-years-old but already boasts 10 finishes across 12 professional wins, with just two losses. According to his UFC profile, he started training just six years ago at the age of 16. He is coming off of three consecutive knockouts and will look to make the most of a big opportunity as the high-profile nature of a Saki fight has turned some additional attention towards a fight that might not have stuck out from the crowd on the prelims.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/28/2017.