After nearly 18 months on the sidelines, Abertillery’s Jack Marshman makes his long-awaited return to the octagon on Saturday night when he squares off against Sean Strickland at UFC Fight Night 181 in Las Vegas, writes Jason Batty.

It has been a year to forget for the Shore MMA Academy fighter, who has been held back by the global pandemic and dogged with injury since losing in Vegas to Edmen Shahbazyan in July last year.

'The Hammer' will be looking to make amends and make a statement on his return to Sin City this time around.

The Welshman, known for his knockout power, has spent a lot of camp sharpening his tools with former boxing World Champion Gavin Rees and working on his strength and conditioning with former MMA fighter Russ Smith of Exert ahead of his return.

South Wales Argus:

In Marshman's way this time is well rounded American Strickland, who boasts a record of 20-3 with notable opponents on his CV including current welterweight champion Kamara Usman, who he lost a unanimous decision to back in 2017.

'Tarzan' Strickland has also had a lengthy lay off following a near fatal motorcycle incident two years ago.

Despite Marshman going into the fight the underdog, he will feel confident in his striking and relish fighting an opponent that will look to meet in the middle to throw leather.

As a smaller middleweight, Marshman has been dwarfed by most of his opponents in his previous seven UFC fights, but will not be giving up much of size advantage when he faces Strickland, who moves up to middleweight for this contest.

The card is headlined by Uriah Hall and living legend Anderson Silva, who insists this is last fight before retirement.

The former middleweight champion still holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history and a glittering professional career spanning over 23 years.

Brazilian future hall of famer Silva, who has fought the best in the world all over the world, faces a younger and hungry Hall who will be looking to ensure 'the Spider' does not get the retirement party he desires.