Who's the toughest opponent in the Ultimate Fighting Championship these days? That would be the injury bug. The world's most popular mixed martial arts promotion has been plagued by pre-fight injuries this year, resulting in the reshuffling of many marquee matchups.
But if you're a UFC fan in the Twin Cities, there's a silver lining.
Live from Target Center on Friday, "UFC on FX: Browne vs. Bigfoot" is one of the few cards that has actually benefited from the injury plague. The co-main event between welterweight contenders Jake Ellenberger and Jay Hieron was moved here after last month's UFC 151 cancellation.
The headliner between top 10 heavyweights Travis Browne and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva came together after the former lost his opponent to injury in August. The unbeaten Browne was pushed into Minneapolis' main event.
"It's an honor to get that call and be put into a situation where the reputation of the company depends on your fight," Browne said.
The UFC returns to Minneapolis for the first time since 2008, the site of Brock Lesnar's first big win. On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White talked about Friday's most important fights, plus shared his thoughts on the card's two hometown fighters.
MAIN CARD NOTABLES
TRAVIS BROWNE VS. ANTONIO SILVA
Need to know: A win for Browne (13-0) moves him into the top six or eight. Silva's last big win came over Fedor Emelianko, but he was crushed by Cain Velasquez in May.
White's take: "This is a big fight for the heavyweight division. I like Travis Browne, and I expect big things from him."
JAKE ELLENBERGER VS. JAY HIERON
Need to know: Ellenberger was tearing through the 170-pound division until a June loss to Martin Kampmann. Hieron returns to the UFC after building his stock elsewhere.
White's take: "Both guys want the chance to fight for the welterweight title and one of them is going to earn their way into contention."
JOHN DODSON VS. JUSSIER FORMIGA
Need to know: Two rising stars in the UFC's new 125-pound flyweight division.
White's take: "This fight will determine the No. 1 contender for [champion] Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson."
JACOB VOLKMANN VS SHANE ROLLER (Airs on Fuel TV)
Need to know: Fighting out of White Bear Lake, Volkmann is a sturdy 155-pound fighter who's coming off a loss after winning five in a row.
White's take: "This kid is super talented."
MARCUS LEVESSEUR VS. CARLO PRATER (Airs on Fuel TV)
Need to know: Levesseur was a wrestling powerhouse at Augsburg, but he lost his May UFC debut to Cody McKenzie. Octagon jitters?
White's take: "It happens to everybody. You never know until their second fight."
- UFC ON FX: BROWNE VS BIGFOOT
- When: 3 p.m. Friday, main card airs live on FX (7 p.m.).
- Where: Target Center, Minneapolis.
- Tickets: $52-$177. • Info: www.ufc.com.