The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Tuesday announced its next step in global expansion. UFC 99 "The Comeback" extends the company's reach in the European Union landing on June 13 in Cologne, Germany.
As originally reported by MMAWeekly.com, the main event will feature a unique 195-pound catchweight bout between former UFC middleweight champion RichFranklin and former Pride 205-pound champion Wanderlei Silva.
"June 13, 2009, is a huge day in the history of the UFC," stated company President Dana White. "It has been a long time coming, but the best fighters on the planet are finally heading to Germany for our first event ever in mainland Europe.
"We are coming with a stacked card and a unique main event. Rich Franklin versus Wanderlei Silva is another of those dream fights fans never thought they'd get to see ... but we are making it happen in Germany.
He continued, "Everyone knows Rich moved up to light heavyweight a couple of fights ago, while Wanderlei is planning on fighting at 185 pounds from now on, but this fight is too exciting a match not to happen and both these guys deserve a ton of credit for taking this fight at 195 pounds."
White, along with UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta, and MLK CEO MarekLieberberg, whom the UFC has partnered with for this event, at a press conference in Cologne confirmed UFC 99 will take place at the Lanxess Arena.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 13, but UFC Fight Club members can begin buying tickets on Monday, March 9.
Commenting on the UFC's first ever event in mainland Europe, UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said, "Our vision for the UFC has always been global. Following on from our successes in the United Kingdom and Ireland, our first card in mainland Europe is another significant step towards making the UFC's brand of mixed martial arts the biggest sport in the world."
The UFC has long been working on other territories across the globe -- including Mexico, the Philippines, France, Dubai, Australia, and several other territories -- so it is likely that there will be several other announcements of expansion in the near future.
A middleweight tilt between American Top Team fighter Alessio Sakara and Roufusport fighter Alan Belcher appears set to take place at UFC 99 in Germany.
Sources close to both camps said the fighters have agreed to the June 13 fight. Bout agreements should be signed shortly.
Belcher, 24, is returning following a come-from-behind win against highly touted import Denis Kang. On the road to dropping two rounds during their UFC 93 encounter, Belcher took advantage of a lapse in Kang's technique, submitting him with a guillotine choke after he shot for a takedown and left his neck exposed.
Since making his debut at UFC 62, the Muay Thai specialist has gone 5-3 in UFC competition, with the Kang win bringing his second pair of consecutive victories in roughly three years of competition. Belcher carries an overall professional record of 14-5.
Sakara, a 27-year-old native of Rome, Italy, is coming off a blistering knockout of newcomer Joe Vedepo at UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs. Neer last September. Always down for a brawl, the fighter has lived by the sword and died by the sword, with his last six appearances ending by KO or TKO. Of those six, he carries three wins paired by as many losses, with a submission loss to DeanLister and no contest against Ron Faircloth marking the first of his nine UFC appearances. Overall, he carries a professional record of 17-7 with the no contest.
RUMORED UFC 99 CARD:
-Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin -Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders -Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno -Mustapha Al-Turk vs. Todd Duffee -Alan Belcher vs. Alessio Sakara -Paul Taylor vs. TBA -Stefan Struve vs. TBA
Main card airs on pay-per-view for $44.95 in the United States