Hopefully for NYC’s Rafael Natal, the third opponent is the charm.
Natal now is scheduled to face Eryk Anders at the UFC’s Long Island debut on July 22 at the renovated Nassau Coliseum, the UFC announced Thursday.
Natal (21-8-1) originally was scheduled to fight Alessio Di Chirico, but the Italian fighter posted to his Instagram account Thursday saying an injury has forced him off the card.
According to a UFC official, Di Chirico was hurt some time ago and replaced with Tim Williams, a 15-3 middleweight from New Jersey who competed on season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but an injury to Williams shook things up once again.
Natal, who lives in Manhattan, now will face Anders, a former University of Alabama linebacker who won a national championship with the Crimson Tide in 2009. Anders made attempts at a pro football career before turning to MMA, signing with the Cleveland Browns after going undrafted in 2010. He’ll make his UFC debut after a 8-0 run to start his pro career, which includes an LFA title and a first-round knockout in Bellator.
Anders jumps right into it with a fight against Natal. “Sapo” is a savvy veteran with 16 UFC bouts to his name, but currently is riding a two fight losing streak after falling to current interim champion Robert Whittaker and contender Tim Boetsch in 2016.