Japanese grappling ace Eiji Mitsuoka (18-7-2) has been tapped as a replacement. UFC officials have yet to confirm the switch.
A 12-year veteran of Pride, DREAM, and a slew of various other Japanese promotions, Mitsuoka makes his UFC debut after capturing a two-fight win streak over Bruno Carvalho and Jung Gyeong Lee in mid-2011. The 36-year-old has finished 14 of his 18 victories -- 11 via submission -- and holds notable wins over Rodrigo Damm, Joachim Hansen, and Brian Cobb.
Sotiropoulos, meanwhile, enters simply hoping to stave off the dreaded three-fight losing streak. Momentum swung suddenly for the 34-year-old, who started his UFC career with seven straight wins before stumbling against Dennis Siver and Rafael dos Anjos last year.
UFC 144 takes place February 26th, 2012 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Former WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson challenges UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar in the night's main event.
UFC 144 fight card:
Lightweight Championship: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
Light Heavyweight: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
Heavyweight: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
Welterweight: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
Middleweight: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
Lightweight: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
Featherweight: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
Bantamweight: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
Middleweight: Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
Bantamweight: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
Featherweight: Tiequan Zhang vs. Leonard Garcia