by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As if the ranks at the top end of the UFC heavyweight division couldn’t get any thinner, they just did. According to a report by Yahoo’s Steve Cofield, Gabriel Gonzaga has had to withdraw from a Jan. 2 bout with Junior dos Santos due to a staph infection. MMAWeekly.com independently confirmed Gonzaga’s withdrawal with sources close to the promotion.
The UFC heavyweight injured reserve/unable to perform list now includes champion Brock Lesnar (who has an intestinal disorder), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (who also has staph), Shane Carwin (knee surgery), and Gonzaga.
About the only heavyweight contenders still healthy or don’t have a fight already scheduled are Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, although sources indicated it was unlikely that the two would meet any time soon.
The carnage in the heavyweight division has caused a recent shuffling of the deck for UFC officials. Lesnar versus Carwin was intended to headline UFC 106, then pushed back to UFC 108, before being shelved indefinitely. Nogueira versus Velasquez was then slotted in for the UFC 108 main event before the Brazilian’s withdrawal.
Tito Ortiz versus Forrest Griffin 2 was then moved into the headline position at UFC 106, and former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans’ fight with Thiago Silva has been elevated to top billing at UFC 108.