A day after it was announced that Josh Burkman had suffered an elbow injury that would force him out of the trilogy bout with Fitch at WSOF 11, WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz told MMA Fighting that longtime MMA veteran Dennis Hallman would step in on less than a month's notice. Hallman becomes the fourth opponent that Fitch has been scheduled to face on the July 5 card, which takes place at the Ocean Center in Daytona, Florida.
Fitch was originally supposed to face middleweight champion Rousimar Palhares in main event, but Palhares was pulled from the card as he cared for his ailing mother in Brazil. Then Jake Shields was booked in his place, but Shields had to withdraw from the bout an injury. That set up a trilogy bout with Burkman, who upset Fitch via guillotine choke last June at WSOF 3. On Tuesday it was announced that Burkman was out of his fight with an elbow injury, which brings us to Plan D.
The 38-year old Hallman is riding a three-fight winning streak, his latest victory coming against Aleksey Shapovalov in Russia in December. In his last UFC fight, Hallman (53-14-2-1) defeated John Makdessi at UFC 140 in Toronto via rear naked choke. However, that fight was contested at a catchweight bout of 158.5 pounds as Hallman failed to make weight.
He was subsequently scheduled to meet Thiago Tavares at UFC 151 (which was cancelled when the main event fell apart) and later at UFC on FX 5 in October 2012. However, Hallman once again missed weight and the bout was ultimately scrapped. Though he cited personal problems as his reason for missing weight, the UFC released him shortly thereafter. Since that time Hallman has won three in a row, including a majority decision victory over Dan Hornbuckle at Titan FC 26 in August.
He was scheduled to compete at the Battlegrounds eight-man tournament set for June 27 in Oklahoma, but the opportunity to compete against Fitch changed his plans.
"Regrettably, yes, I am out of the tournament, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to fight someone like Jon Fitch," Hallman told MMA Fighting. "I regard him as one of the best in the world and while I believe that the tournament has similar opportunities to face top-level guys, the chance to fight Fitch was just too big to pass up."