Lightweight Escudero not fazed by changes

About the only thing Efrain Escudero knew for sure about his next bout is that it would take place on tonight’s Ultimate Fighting Championship card in Austin, Texas.

Who he would be fighting was not so clear.

A rash of injuries in the lightweight division forced two opponent changes for the former “The Ultimate Fighter” winner.

Escudero was scheduled to face John Gunderson, but then was asked to step in for the injured Mac Danzig against Matt Wiman. Days later, Wiman was injured.

When the dust settled, Escudero found out he would be taking on exciting prospect Charles Oliveira on tonight’s card, which will air tape delayed at 8 p.m. on Spike TV (Cable 29).

“I really didn’t pay much attention to it. There was a (48-hour window) where everything moved so quickly,” Escudero said. “We’re worried about what we’re bringing to the table. We’re not worried about what they’re bringing to the table. We’re making them fight our fight.”

Even if Escudero wanted to do extensive research on Oliveira, it would have been difficult to find much video of him.

The 20-year-old made his UFC debut Aug. 1 in San Diego, defeating Darren Elkins by submission in 41 seconds to improve to 13-0 overall. The only other time he fought outside his home nation of Brazil was another first-round submission on a regional card in Atlantic City last year.

“It’s his time to shine,” Escudero said. ”He’s coming off a good win and wants to move up the ladder. I’ve worked very hard for this camp. We’ve worked on everything from jiu-jitsu to wrestling to standup.”

But he might have forgotten to work on his weight. The 24-year-old Escudero came in at 159 pounds Tuesday, 3 pounds over the allowable limit and will forfeit 20 percent of his purse as a penalty.

In the main event, Nate Marquardt looks to position himself in the mix for the middleweight title again when he takes on Rousimar Palhares.

Marquardt had a shot at Anderson Silva’s belt in 2007 but came up short. He worked his way back through the division but lost to Chael Sonnen in a No. 1 contender bout in February.

While he insisted he’s not looking past Palhares, Marquardt said his only objective is to get the belt.

“That’s my goal, and right now that’s the way I’m going to do it, by beating Rousimar,” he said. “I definitely feel I’m still at the top of the division, and I can be one or two fights away from a title shot.”

Two lightweight bouts round out the televised portion of the card, as Jim Miller meets Gleison Tibau and Ross Pearson takes on Cole Miller.

Gunderson, who trains in Las Vegas, remains on the card and will fight Yves Edwards.

The card will serve as the lead-in to the premiere of Season 12 of the organization’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.” Former contestant Josh Koscheck will coach one team against a squad led by welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

The two coaches will meet at the end of the season for the belt. The show was filmed this year in Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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