MMAjunkie has learned from sources close to the promotion that Ellenberger’s planned opponent at this month’s UFC Fight Night 44 event, Bryan Barberena, has been forced to withdraw from the cage. In his place steps promotional newcomer James Moontasri (7-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC). The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss such matters.
UFC Fight Night 44 takes place June 28 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The night’s six-fight main card, which kicks off with the Ellenberger vs. Moontasri matchup, airs on FOX Sports 1 following four preliminary bouts on the same channel and one preliminary matchup that streams on UFC Fight Pass.
An official announcement is expected shortly.
Ellenberger, the twin brother of UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, is a 29-year-old UFC newcomer who fights for the first time since December 2012, due in part to a last-minute cancellation of a scheduled UFC debut earlier this year. He’s won back-to-back fights after the first loss of his career, which came against Justin Salas in 2011. His resume includes 12 stoppages in his 14 wins.
Ellenberger was first expected to meet Frank Trevino at UFC Fight Night 44, but that was changed to Johnny Case and then Barberena before finally settling on Moontasri.
Meanwhile, “Moonwalker” Moontasri fought 12 days ago and scored a highlight-reel knockout of Jordan Rinaldi at RFA 15. The three-time RFA veteran has scored five of his career wins by stoppage, including three knockouts and two submissions.