by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
A heavyweight showdown between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain Velasquez has been confirmed for UFC 108 in Las Vegas.
The possibility of the bout arose last week when Nogueira’s manager talked about the fight to SportTV. MMAWeekly.com has since been able to confirm the bout with multiple sources, who say it will happen on Jan. 2.
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.
Most felt that in his next bout Velasquez would face the winner of the title fight between UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. But when that fight was bumped off of the UFC 106 fight card, and a subsequent attempt to reschedule it for UFC 108 was derailed due to Lesnar suffering from a case of mononucleosis, it became apparent that Velasquez would have to wait too long for that fight to play out.
With much of the top tier of the UFC’s roster already booked or on injured reserve, the promotion needed a high profile fight for its New Year’s event. It hasn’t yet been confirmed, but it is likely that Nogueira versus Velasquez will headline UFC 108 or at least attain co-main event status with the winner likely getting a shot at the winner of Lesnar and Carwin once that fight plays out.
UFC 108 also features a light heavyweight battle between Top 10 ranked fighters Rashad Evans, who is coming off of a stint as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights,” and Brazilian striker Thiago Silva.