Following his split decision victory over George Roop during the live finale for the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, “Sugar” Shane Nelson is set to make his formal UFC debut against Aaron Riley at UFC 96 on March 7.
The news is courtesy of a report from MMAjunkie.com, which quoted a source close to Nelson as indicating that the fight is close to being finalized.
Nelson’s victory over Roop improved his record to 11-3. The B.J. Penn-trained fighter is a Hawaiian native and prior to the UFC had spent most of his career competing on the Islands. While fighting for promotions just as X-1 and Rumble on the Rock, Nelson posted notable victories over Kaleo Kwan and Harris Sarmiento.
Coming off the heels of a six-fight win streak, Nelson was cast for TUF 8 last January and made it to the final field of 16 after winning a qualifying bout against Charles Diaz. However, he was eliminated following a loss in the every next round when he was submitted by eventual lightweight show winner Efrain Escudero.
Riley made his UFC return at UFC 91 in November and won a unanimous decision against Jorge Gurgel. The victory improved Riley’s overall MMA record to 27-10-1 and his UFC record to 1-2.
UFC 96 will take place in Columbus, Ohio and emanate from the Nationwide Arena. Other bouts currently expected for the event include Jim Miller vs. Gray Maynard, Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, and Kendall Grove vs. Jason Day, and Dustin Hazelett vs. Ben Saunders.