by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Ask and ye shall receive.
“In February I’ll be ready to fight when they ask me to fight. In February I think I’ll be in shape. I’d love to fight in Australia. If they put me on the card, I would love to fight there,” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira told MMAWeekly.com recently, addressing his return from a fourth staph infection in the past year.
He was initially slated to face fellow heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez on Jan. 2 at UFC 108, but the infection derailed those plans.
Despite several reports that UFC 109 on Feb. 6 was under consideration, MMAWeekly.com has confirmed an MMAJunkie.com report that UFC 109 is not likely. Sources close to the bout informed MMAWeekly.com that UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia, is expected to host the bout.
It looks like Nogueira gets his wish.
The addition of Nogueira vs. Velasquez would give the UFC a strong twin bill headlining its down under debut. Wanderlei Silva on Wednesday confirmed plans to “kick the Michael Bisping ass” in Sydney.
After losing the interim UFC heavyweight title to Frank Mir at UFC 92, Nogueira (32-5-1) returned with an impressive victory over UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 102 in August. The win immediately put his name back in the hat of contenders to the belt currently held by Brock Lesnar.
Velasquez (7-0) is coming off a dominating TKO stoppage of Ben Rothwell at UFC 104. Three years into the sport, Velasquez has made a quick rise to the top of the heavyweight division with five of his victories taking place in the Octagon and only one having gone to a decision.
Despite the re-scheduling of the bout, coupled with the shelving of UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and number one contender Shane Carwin, Velasquez has taken the uncertainty of his next bout in stride.
“I just think it’s part of the sport when people get hurt,” he told MMAWeekly.com at UFC 106. “It just so happens that a lot of people got hurt in this weight class.”
Lesnar’s condition is such that it is unclear when he will be able to return to action, though his camp insists he will return. That has led the UFC to consider crowning an interim UFC heavyweight champion, but it is unclear whether Nogueira, who has held that distinction before, and Velasquez will fight for an interim title.
Regardless, Velasquez doesn’t discount his opponent.
“Nogueira, you can never count him out,” he said. “You hurt him, whatever – he’ll still submit you and beat you. He’s just a super tough guy.”
UFC 110 has yet to be formally announced by the promotion, but is expected to take place on Feb. 21 at the 21,000-seat Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.