The UFC has confirmed that an injury to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has forced him to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Cane Velasquez, and the match between Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva has been bumped up to main event status at UFC 108 on January 2.
This will be Evans’ first fight back since Lyoto Machida separated him from consciousness at UFC 98 and he’ll look to begin reestablishing himself as a contender in the division - a win over the dangerous Silva will definitely do that.
Silva, on the other hand, has only lost one of his 15 pro fights – also to Lyoto Machida - and should already be considered a potential contender. If he’s able to pick up a W against Evans, he may be one or two wins away from a title shot. Through his career, the black belt has become more feared for his aggressive style of striking than for his ground work, and while “Sugar” has a penchant for striking also, he might be well-advised to avoid stand-up exchanges with Silva. As an elite wrestler, Evans could take a page from Randy Couture’s book and try to take Silva into late rounds, grinding out a victory with takedowns and clinch work against the cage.
Silva has never been to the third round in his UFC career and with his fast-paced style, conditioning could be the key, but one mistake by Evans may be all the Brazilian needs to send his opponent reeling into his second consecutive knockout loss.
Nogueira is suffering from a relapse of staph infection in his elbow and is currently undergoing treatment at a medical center in San Diego. He sends the following statement to his fans:
“I am so disappointed. I am sorry to my fans, but I have learned from my mistakes, and I’m not going into a fight unless I can give 100 percent my best performance. I have to be in top form, and then I can guarantee an exciting fight, a battle like what they saw at UFC 102. I appreciate all the fans around the world who are supporting me right now so much, and my next fight, a great fight, I give to them.”
It is unknown when his fight with Velasquez – a fight to determine the top contender at heavyweight - will take place.
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