Ross Pearson injured, Michael Johnson steps in to face Melvin Guillard

The Brit suffered a knee injury in training that will require surgery, and in his place, Guillard will face a surging American lightweight in London.

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The UFC’s March 8 date in London has a new co-main event, as injury has forced Ross Pearson to step out of his proposed rematch with Melvin Guillard. In his place, Michael Johnson has accepted the bout.

The UFC announced the news on Thursday morning.

Pearson hurt his knee in training and will require surgery. His return timetable is not yet known.

Pearson and Guillard were scheduled to rematch after their October 2013 bout was declared a no contest when Pearson sustained a deep cut due to a knee strike that referee Marc Goddard ruled illegal, though unintentional. The bout was less than two minutes old at the time of the foul, necessitating the final ruling.

Immediately afterward, UFC brass declared the two would rematch, but now instead, Guillard (31-12-2, 2 no contests) will face Johnson, who has looked sharp in his last two bouts, dominating Joe Lauzon in an August decision win and then knocking out Gleison Tibau at December’s UFC 168. He’s 14-8 overall.

The March 8 UFC Fight Night event takes place at The O2 Arena in London, and features a pivotal headliner between light-heavyweights Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa. If Gustafsson wins, he’ll become the division’s No. 1 contender, setting in place the possibility of a rematch of 2013’s Fight of the Year with champion Jon Jones.