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Howard out; Johnson vs. Hazelett rumored for TUF9 Finale

According to Anthony Johnson, John Howard has backed out of their fight. Here’s what he said in an interview with the Sports Action Network via The MMA Fiend:

I was supposed to fight John Howard for the Ultimate Fighter Finale, but supposedly he backed out, so uh, I don’t know. I don’t know why he backed out, you know, he’s a fighter, he fights for the UFC, he shouldn’t back out of any fight. But it’s up to him. If he don’t think he’s ready for the competition don’t sign up for the UFC, you know what I mean?

You get in there and you’re supposed to fight, that’s what we get paid to do, and you’re supposed to love what you do. To back out of a fight, you know, unless it’s an injury, it’s like a cowardly move.

So the obvious question: who will step up to fight the hard hitting welterweight? Some guy on the UG named IrishFighter110 says it will be none other than Dustin Hazelett. It’s your classic “unassuming white kid with a lumberjack beard who was picked on as a child and learned jiu-jitsu as a result” versus “explosive jacked black guy with a knack for separating individuals from consciousness who hates getting poked in the eye” fight. Or your classic “striker” versus “grappler” match-up. Whichever.

This is not only a step up in competition for Johnson but a vast improvement for the card. Nothing against John Howard, but the guy was booked in order for Johnson to get another W on his way to becoming a contender. Now the fight has real significance on the 170lb weight class.

‘Rumble’ and ‘McLovin’ are arguably the two fastest rising up-and-comers in the welterweight division. The winner will make the leap from prospect to contender, while the loser will get knocked back down the ladder. This is the type of fight that fighters and fans alike get excited for. Let’s hope IrishFighter110 isn’t bullshitting.