Luke Sanders steps up on short notice at UFC Fight Night 81

Luke Sanders (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Luke Sanders (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Another Ohio Valley MMA fighter is headed to the UFC.

Tennessee native Luke Sanders (10-0) steps in as a late replacement to take on Maximo Blanco (12-6-1, 4-3 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 81 later this month in Boston.

Sanders, the current RFA bantamweight champion, bumps up to featherweight for his fight with Blanco and an opportunity in the UFC.

Sanders, who now trains in Arizona at The MMA Lab, was one of our 10 Ohio Valley fighters you could eventually see in the UFC early last year. He joins Andrew Holbrook as the second fighter from that list to sign with the world’s top organization.

“Cool Hand” Luke fought just once in 2015 after going 3-0 under the RFA banner in 2014 and winning the organization’s title. His win came via unanimous decision over Terrion Ware at “RFA vs. Legacy” in May.

A native of Venezuela, Blanco has rebounded with three straight wins over Andy Ogle, Daniel Hooker, and Mike de la Torre after starting his UFC career just 1-3.

UFC Fight Night 81 takes place on Jan. 16 and is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between champ T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz. Sanders vs. Blanco will air as part of the preliminary card on Fox Sports 1.