On the Rise: UFC Rio Rancho

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Weaver was scheduled to make his promotional debut last fall in Tampa, Florida, but just a handful of days before the event, the Contender Series graduate was forced to withdraw from the card. Now four months later, Weaver is hoping his second attempt at making the walk to the Octagon for the first time continues to follow a similar trajectory as his time on the Contender Series did, as his initial appearance at the UFC Apex was scuttled before he returned a few weeks later and earned himself a contract.

The 28-year-old turned heads last summer, securing a unanimous decision victory by outworking Devin Smyth in a fight where Weaver talked to his opponent the entire time. The victory pushed his winning streak to seven, a run that includes wins over fellow Contender Series alums Max Mustaki and Tyler Hill, as well as veteran Charles Bennett.

Saturday night, Weaver is slated to face off with Kazula Vargas, a 34-year-old veteran who landed on the wrong side of the results in his first UFC appearance last summer in Uruguay. He’d won seven of his previous eight appearances ahead of that fight, so it’s possible the combination of competing in South America and Octagon jitters hampered his performance.

Of the 25 athletes to earn UFC contracts last summer in Las Vegas, Weaver was one of the most talked about of the bunch, so the expectations are high and the spotlight will be on him, especially with a main card assignment. The late withdraw last time out has only heightened the anticipation for his appearance this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the debuting lightweight makes out on Saturday night.

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