Taisumov Scratched, Dunham Rumored to Face Olivier Aubin-Mercier at UFC 223
Bad news struck earlier today, as lightweight knockout artist Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov (26-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) is now reportedly unable to fight at UFC 223. This news was first reported by MMA Today’s Denis Geyko. The Russian lightweight was scheduled to fight fellow contender Evan Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, visa issues kept Taisumov from being able to fight.
— Denis Geyko (@DenisGeykoRT) March 9, 2018
With Taisumov removed from the card, many wondered whether or not Dunham would remain. Even if Dunham did stay on the card, speculation abounded as to who he might face. In a recent development, there might be some clarification on the situation. On Twitter, Canadian lightweight Olivier “The Quebec Kid” Aubin-Mercier (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) indicated that he was willing and able to take the fight.
— Olivier Aubin (@oliaubin) March 9, 2018
Likewise, Dunham took to Twitter to accept the challenge.
— Evan Dunham (@evandunham155) March 9, 2018
Dunham, 36, had his four-fight winning streak halted in a majority draw with Beneil Dariush in October. Prior to the Dariush fight, Dunham had defeated three straight opponents. The longtime UFC veteran had been on a tear lately. A win over Aubin-Mercier could catapult him into the upper echelons of the increasingly crowded lightweight top ten.
Aubin-Mercier, should the fight become official, stands to face his highest ranked opponent to date. The TUF: Nations finalist has put together an impressive three-fight winning streak. The Canadian has picked up wins over Thibault Gouti, Drew Dober, and Tony Martin during that span. A victory over Dunham at UFC 223 could help ‘OAM’ break into the official rankings. Aubin-Mercier was scheduled to face Gilbert Burns at UFC Orlando, but the bout was cancelled due to concerns about Burns’ weight cut.
In what has now become a recurring theme, Mairbek Taisumov’s visa struggles have kept him from fighting on U.S. soil. Olivier Aubin-Mercier has offered to step in to save the fight, and Evan Dunham appears to be willing to throw down. Hopefully, all those involved will reach a just solution. If Aubin-Mercier and Dunham do end up squaring off, that could be a highly intriguing matchup in lieu of Taisumov’s withdrawal.