The UFC officially announced UFC 119 today, headlined by a rematch between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Vs Frank Mir with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira Vs Ryan Bader serving as the co-main event.
The interesting news however is that neither of these two match-ups were the UFC’s first picks for the event.
According to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer the two stars of the blockbuster UFC 114 event, Quinton Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans were originally approached to serve in the main and co-main event slots.
Rampage was earmarked to headline against former champion Lyoto Machida, while Evans was penciled in as Rogerio Nogueira’s next opponent.
Those plans were scrapped however when both Jackson and Evans turned down the fights. Both fighters have given some indication of the reasoning behind their decisions recently, with Rampage noting on twitter that he wants an exciting fight next, and believes Machida’s style is ‘boring’.
Meanwhile Evans has stated several times in the press that he doesn’t want to jeopardize his title shot with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, and so is willing to wait until next year when the current champion returns from injury.
According to Meltzer there is now talk of a rematch between Rampage and Forrest Griffin when the TUF season 1 winner and former light-heavyweight champion returns from injury.
It’s disappointing that both fighters were not willing to step up to the plate on this occasion as the match-ups the UFC had in mind would have made this another blockbuster event for the promotion, but given the circumstances they’ve still managed to put together a solid line-up to front the show.