Top-5 UFC light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has resumed training again and hopes to return to the Octagon in either May or June. Nogueira had been scheduled to fight Alexander Gustafsson at an event in London, England in March but withdrew from the contest almost as quickly as it was announced due to a lingering back injury. It marked the second time that an effort to have “Lil Nog” battle “The Mauler” had fallen through. Unfortunately, that has been Nogueira’s problem in recent years. He’s frequently injured, and when one of his fights are announced these days there’s almost a feeling of ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ from a majority of fans and media.
To put things in perspective, Nogueira has withdrawn from nearly as many fights since joining the promotion as ones that he’s actually been involved in. He’s 4-2 in his Octagon tenure but hasn’t fought since a rather forgettable win over Rashad Evans in a fight that failed to produce any fireworks at UFC 156. Nogueira has been forced to withdraw from five potential matchups due to injuries. It may say something about the current state of the 205-pound division that Nogueira has been able to maintain his No. 5 ranking even though the rash of injuries have killed the momentum of a two-fight win streak. Nogueira says he’s willing to face anyone the UFC wants him to fight. While there are several options, the top potential candidates could include Phil Davis and Mauricio Rua.
Nogueira lost to “Mr. Wonderful” by decision in 2011 and also lost to “Shogun” via decision in a thrilling battle in 2005 dating back to their days with Pride. Either option would seem an attractive one at this stage of his career for Nogueira, but it’s obvious a fight against Rua would generate more interest. They had been scheduled to fight at UFC 161 but Nogueira was forced out due to an injury, and Rua expressed an interest in fighting him again after his recent devastating knockout victory over James Te Huna at Fight Night 33 in Australia.
Hopefully, whatever fight is announced for Nogueira it’ll be a situation where he’s finally able to show up, give fans an honest performance and not be forced to withdraw from yet another event.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports