The recent news that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had to bow out of a scheduled match with Chuck Liddell for UFC 85 on June 7 in London has created a lot of speculation in regard to a potential replacement.
Since so many of the UFC’s top light heavyweights are already committed to fights in upcoming months, there aren’t a lot of internal options. As such, many are point to external options.
One internal potential option I overlooked yesterday was Rashad Evans. Evans is expected to fight Thiago Silva at UFC 84 on May 24 in Las Vegas but the fight has yet to be officially announced.
Because Evans has headlined a PPV before and he represents good name recognition value as the heavyweight winner from the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” I think Evans is the perfect choice. Personally, I see no obvious need for the UFC to go outside the promotion.
That being said, I’d still like to see an outside option brought in.
I’ve seen the likes of Vitor Belfort and Ricardo Arona mentioned as possibilities but I don’t think either one of them are realistic.
Belfort technically is still under suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after testing positive for steroids following PRIDE’s first show in the U.S. Instead of serving out the suspension, he went and fought for Cage Rage in the UK.
Technically, the UFC could promote a fight between Belfort and Liddell since it would be in the UK, where MMA is not currently regulated. However, the UFC has good relations with NSAC and promoting Belfort given the current circumstances would not be well received.
I’d love to see the old Vitor back at the top of the UFC. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it. Belfort needs to wake up and stand before NSAC. He needs to apologize and find out what he needs to do in order to get licensed again. Chances are that they will tell him he needs to serve a suspension but he isn’t fighting right now and isn’t scheduled to. The time he’s currently spending on the sidelines could be going towards time served if he would just do the right thing.
By being stubborn, Belfort is doing himself a great disservice. There are more promotions in the U.S. than ever. A lot of them could use a fighter such as Belfort. The problem is that until he makes everything right with NSAC, no promotion in the States can touch the guy.
Arona is another guy I’d love to see in the UFC but that isn’t going to happen either, unless he drops his asking price. Personally, I believe Arona is worth every penny but I don’t run the UFC. I don’t think the UFC is opposed to bringing him in, but the deal has to make sense to them.
The name I’m casting my vote for is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the twin brother of current interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He’s a top ten caliber light heavyweight who isn’t in my top ten right now for no other reason than inactivity.
Rogerio has done some fighting for Keith Crawford’s Hardcore Fighting Championships in Canada but I’d love to see “Minotoro” competing on the UFC’s big stage. There’s also the fact that I think a fight between him and Liddell would be pretty damn good.