The UFC wanted its new heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, to face one of its former champions, Ricco Rodriguez, in the main event of UFC 53 on June 4, 2005, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Adding spice to it was the fact that Rodriguez owned a win over Arlovski. The fight was signed, but a short time before it was to occur, Rodriguez told matchmaker Joe Silva he would pull out.
Rodriguez said he was unable to find anyone to train with him and told Silva he wouldn't fight as a result. Silva made calls trying to find Rodriguez some training partners, to no avail.
The UFC tried desperately to find a new opponent, but most of the top heavyweights were either tied up with future fights or were not interested in fighting a quality opponent like Arlovski on short notice.
Thus, the late Justin Eilers got the title shot coming off a knockout loss to Paul Buentello at UFC 51.
A former middle linebacker at Iowa State, Eilers was as tough as they came, which he had to be in this fight, which he lost via TKO in 4:10. According to his manager, Monte Cox, Eilers suffered a staggering array of injuries and still managed to have a sense of humor about it.
He broke his right hand on top of Arlovski's head. He broke his left hand blocking an Arlovski punch. He broke his right foot on a kick and when he landed, he sprained his left ankle. He also tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
To top it off, Cox said Eilers broke his nose and had a "seriously black eye."
When he got on the plane in Philadelphia for the flight home the next day, Eilers was a mess and all the passengers were staring at him. One man in particular, Cox said, couldn't take his eyes off Eilers. As Eilers got into his seat, he looked at the man and said, "You ought to see the other guy." As the man began to smirk, Eilers beamed at him and said, "Not a mark on him!"
The Rich Franklin Era also began in the UFC, as he stopped Evan Tanner to claim the middleweight title via fourth-round TKO.
David Loiseau knocked out Charles McCarthy with a spinning back kick to the rib cage. The highlight is still shown in the arena during the opening of every UFC card.
The card marked the last time the UFC visited Atlantic City. The UFC held six cards in the casino town from UFC 28 through UFC 53.
Forrest Griffin made his first appearance in the UFC since his stirring win over Stephan Bonnar at "The Ultimate Fighter 1" finale. He submitted Bill Mahood.
Nick Diaz def. Koji Oishi, KO, 1:24 R1
David Loiseau def. Charles McCarthy, TKO, 2:10 R2
Nate Quarry def. Shonie Carter, TKO, 2:37 R1
Paul Buentello def. Kevin Jordan, submission (guillotine choke), 4:10 R1
Forrest Griffin def. Bill Mahood, submission (rear naked choke), 2:18 R1
Karo Parisyan def. Matt Serra, unanimous decision
UFC middleweight championship: Rich Franklin def. Evan Tanner, TKO, 3:25 R4 (Franklin wins title)
UFC interim heavyweight championship: Andrei Arlovski def. Justin Eilers, KO, 4:10 R1 (Arlovski retains title)