Only a few days since the fight was first booked, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has had to pull out of his light-heavyweight No.1 contender fight with Alexander Gustafsson due to an ongoing back injury.
It’s somewhat surprising that the call-off has happened quite so early given that the fight isn’t even set to take place for another five months, but, that aside, the news isn’t so shocking as ‘Lil Nog’ has been particularly injury prone over the past few years and has had to pull out of multiple bouts due to a variety of different ailments.
In fact, the 37 year-old has only fought twice in the past two years and even although he’s currently on a two fight unbeaten run at 205lbs after defeating both Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, his latest setback does raise the question of how much longer the veteran campaigner can continue before opting to hang up his gloves for good.
So, the UFC is now tasked with finding a new opponent to face Gustafsson at the March 8th event in London which will kick off a series of European ‘Fight Night’ events over the course of 2014.
This could prove to be something of a headscratcher for the UFC as ideally they would like to give Gustafsson a fight he’s got a good chance of winning, paving the way for a lucrative rematch with Jon Jones later in 2014.
With that in mind ‘Lil Nog’ had seemed the best choice at the time, but now they’ll have to look elsewhere with dangerous opponents like Phil Davis, the last man to beat Gustafsson, and Daniel Cormier, widely tipped to be a future title contender, lying in wait.
Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson both have fights this month, so if they win they could also emerge as potential opponents for the Swedish star.