After Shogun’s original UFC 161 opponent, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, had to withdraw from the bout due to back problems, Sonnen tweeted to Shogun that he was still looking for a fight.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told Kevin Iole, a reporter for MMAWeekly.com official content partner Yahoo! Sports, that Shogun vs. Sonnen was an option they were considering, but that no deal had been struck.
The deal did not get done, at least not for UFC 161, as UFC officials announced late Monday night.
“With Lil Nog injured, @ShogunRua is left opponentless 2 weeks out; #ufc161 will proceed with 11 fights and Shogun will fight on a card soon,” the UFC stated on its official Twitter account.
With the removal of the Shogun fight, a preliminary bout between Ryan Jimmo and Igor Pokrajac has been moved to the main card on pay-per-view.
Shogun’s agent, Lucas Pires, told Brazilian website Combate.com that his fighter immediately accepted when he was told that Sonnen had offered to fight him, but Sonnen could be the reason the fight won’t happen at UFC 161.
Sonnen in 2011 plead guilty to a federal money laundering charge for his involvement in a mortgage fraud case. Canada has very strict entry restrictions for foreigners with a felony conviction, so it’s likely that it would have been too difficult, or perhaps not even possible, for Sonnen to gain entry in time for UFC 161 on June 15.
The bout is still a possibility. One of the UFC’s upcoming fight cards on Fox Sports 1, the new Fox sports network, is a likely target. Sonnen has been trying for some time to get on the Boston fight card slated for the network’s Aug. 17 launch.
Despite the talk of a fight with Sonnen, Shogun already could have even bigger plans in the works, according to his agent.
In discussing the possibility of Shogun vs. Sonnen, Pires also told Combate.com that the UFC is currently planning the third season of the Brazilian edition of The Ultimate Fighter, and is considering Shogun and Nogueira as coaches.
Nogueira’s older brother, Rodrigo, coached TUF Brazil 2 opposite Fabricio Werdum. Those two are slated to fight this weekend at UFC on Fuel TV 10.