Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heavyweight Shuffle Continues: Gonzaga Out Of UFC 108, Velasquez vs. "Big Nog" Gets A Date

One of UFC President Dana White's favorite, oft-repeated comments is that every morning when he wakes up, as soon one toe hits the floor, he knows he'll probably get news that something [expletive] 'ed up has happened. Well, today was one of those days. Gabriel Gonzaga (11-4) has officially announced that a severe staph infection has forced him out of his planned UFC 108 showdown with up-and-coming Junior Dos Santos (9-1).

This is only the latest in a string of setbacks for the UFC's traditionally loaded New Year's card. Presumably, the UFC is currently looking for a replacement fighter to challenge Dos Santos, but few names spring to mind. I suppose he could face number one contender Shane Carwin (11-0) since Brock Lesnar isn't likely to be healthy anytime soon. Failing that, perhaps there would be interest in Dos Santos vs. Patrick Barry (5-1)?

In other heavyweight news, Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira (32-5-1) will meet Cain Velasquez (7-0) at UFC 110 in Australia on February 21st, 2010. Their fight was originally scheduled for the New Years show, but was pushed back when "Big Nog" contracted a severe staph infection of his own.

This might be a blessing in disguise for the UFC because, like main-event fighter Wanderlei Silva, Nogueira is a huge star in Japan, which is in a similar time zone to Sydney's. "Big Nog's" notoriety will help drive television ratings in Japan, which the UFC needs if it ever wants to break back into that market.

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