We revealed yesterday that the UFC have announced that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will fight Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden at UFC On Fuel TV 2 in April, but it turns out that wasn’t their first choice for the Brazilian.
On the latest edition of the ‘UFC Tonight’ show on Fuel TV, reporter Ariel Helwani claimed that they had initially planned to pair up Lil Nog with another former PRIDE veteran, Dan Henderson.
‘Hendo’ turned down the fight however, which apparently would have been for No.1 contender status in the 205lb division.
I’m not overly surprised to hear this news – Henderson has been calling for a title fight at either middleweight or preferably light-heavyweight, and it’s likely that it’ll take a very big fight to persuade him otherwise.
I am however surprised that there was an indication that Lil Nog could have been maneouvered into potential title contention at this stage. Despite the fact he won his last fight convincingly with a first round TKO victory over Tito Ortiz, he had lost his last two fights prior to that, leaving him 3-2 in the UFC overall and so he’s not the most compelling candidate right now.
Having said that, a rematch between Nogueira and Henderson (Nog one their first encounter by submission back in 2005) would have been fun, though it’s not the only choice out there. I’d be equally happy to see him going up against someone like Lyoto Machida, or a rematch with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua for instance.