That sure didn't take long.
Last week it was announced Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would face Alexander Gustafsson when the UFC returns to London on March 8. The fight would be "The Mauler's" first bout since his epic clash with Jon Jones at UFC 165 back in September, but those plans have officially been scrapped.
On Thursday, just five days after the UFC announced the fight, "Lil Nog" has officially withdrawn from the tilt due to a nagging back injury. MMA Fighting originally broke the news regarding "Minotouro," and Ariel Helwani further solidified the information by receiving confirmation from Dana White.
While the news is ultimately disappointing to the UFC, being sidelined by injury is nothing new to Nogueira. The 37-year-old veteran has been forced out of multiple bouts since joining the organization in 2009. A multitude of afflictions have forced the Brazilian out of scheduled fights against high-profile opposition such as Rich Franklin, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera. He was also slated to face Gustafsson on a previous occasion at UFC on Fuel TV 2 in 2012, but a knee injury forced him to withdraw from the matchup.
The last appearance the former Pride staple had inside the Octagon came at UFC 156 back in February, where he defeated former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans via unanimous decision. Following the victory, he was scheduled to face Rua at UFC 161 in June, but was unable to compete due to a back injury—the same one that has forced him to withdraw from the bout with Gustafsson.
Coming off of his razor-thin loss to Jones at UFC 165, Gustafsson campaigned for an immediate rematch but was ultimately shot down when the organization named Glover Teixeira as next in line to compete for the 205-pound title.
Nevertheless, Gustafsson's stock skyrocketed in the aftermath of his clash with Jones, and White deemed he would be granted another title opportunity with a victory in his next fight. With the spot opposite the Swedish striker now open, the UFC will now have to find a replacement who fits the current situation surrounding the recent light heavyweight title challenger.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.
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