The UFC’s upcoming visit to Japan hit a minor speed bump today when it was learned that lightweight George Sotiropoulos was forced to withdraw from a fight with Takanori Gomi after suffering an undisclosed injury while training for their February 26 fight. Sotiropoulos has been out of action since being knocked out in the first round of a July bout against Rafael dos Anjos. The defeat was his second in a row after racking up seven straight wins prior to the stumbles.

As a result of the Aussie’s condition, newcomer Eiji Mitsuoka will take his place.

News of the change was first reported by MMAWeekly.

Mitsuoka may not be a household name but he’s certainly an accomplished fighter, holding an 18-7-2 record including fourteen finishes as well as past wins over Gleison Tibau, Rodrigo Damm, and Joachim Hansen. In facing Gomi he will be looking for a third consecutive victory.

UFC 144 is set for Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan and is headlined by 155-pound champion Frankie Edgar defending his title against Ben Henderson.


MMATraining Take: I’m not overly familiar with Mitsuoka but he’s clearly got some skill and, at least when considering Gomi’s struggles as of late, I wouldn’t say he’s a major underdog. It was also a smart move by the UFC to bring in another Japanese fighter to keep the crowd excited about the fight.