You know UFC 135 is coming up fast because fighters have started dropping off the card like flies due to injury. Manny Gamburyan and his perma-screwed shoulder were the first to go, followed by both Kid Yamamoto and Damacio Page … ‘fortunately’ they were fighting eachother so that only cost us one amazing scrap. Now we have news that the co-main event for the show is pooched: Diego Sanchez has broken his hand. NO! NO! NO!

“I am heartbroken that I have to inform MMA fans that I cannot fight Hughes at UFC 135 later this month,” Sanchez began. “I have never physically felt more prepared to compete than I felt for this fight, which makes this even more painful for me.”

Sanchez’s brief statement ended with a message of hope for his supporters, saying, “While I do not know right now when I will return, I want to assure all of the fans out there that I will be back in the Octagon as soon as I am 100 percent healthy.”

Immediately after the UFC announced the news, Dana White tweeted that they were working on finding a replacement for Hughes to battle. Diego Sanchez wasn’t the easiest fight in the universe for him to begin with, and it doesn’t get much better competition wise unless the UFC decides to take Royce Gracie up on his ‘I fight de Hughes for one meeeellion dollar!‘ offer. Or Matt Hughes’ desire to rematch the only guy other than GSP to beat him twice, mister short shorts himself: Dennis Hallman.

After that it’s a murderer’s row of welterweight contenders like Rory MacDonald, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck. Matt Hughes famously ducked both Fitch and Koscheck in the past and I imagine has little interest in becoming the latest trophy name on Rory MacDonald’s record, so there’s a little quandry there. Perhaps hoping to goad Matt into accepting a fight with him, Josh Koscheck had this to say:

I’m a big-name fighter, so he can take that and run with it. I put it out there. I told UFC I’d do it, and if Matt Hughes is man enough, he’ll step up and do it.

I think he’ll do it. I think he’ll take the fight. He wants big-name fighters. He’s getting near the end of his career. I think he’ll take the fight because it’s good for the sport and good for the UFC.

I don’t think I’ve got to worry about anything with Matt Hughes — well, possibly worry about him accepting the fight. (chuckles) But other than that, I’m not worried about anything he brings to the table. I think I’m better in every area. I’ve just got to go out there and prove it now.

While Koscheck has let it be known that he’s accepted the UFC’s offer to fight Hughes, that doesn’t mean he’s the only fighter they’ve contacted. We’ll have to wait and see who our favorite bible thumpin country boy decides on … if he even decides he’s still going to fight on the card at all. A bible quote to give him confidence:

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. -Proverbs 24:10