UFC 161 took a hit this week when interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao was forced out of his fight against Eddie Wineland, which scrapped the main event for the upcoming card in Winnipeg on June 15.
The UFC moved quickly to shift the light heavyweight fight between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans to the headline slot, but it left a bit of an open hole on the card with one less marquee featured bout.
With time running out and less than a month to go until the show takes place, the UFC appears ready to call on heavyweight Roy Nelson to potentially step in and fill the vacancy on the card.
According to a report from UFC Tonight on Tuesday, the UFC has contacted Nelson about possibly stepping into a featured bout on the UFC 161 card.
Nelson was on call already for UFC 160 when heavyweight co-main event fighter Mark Hunt had visa issues and was unsure if he'd be able to gain entry into the United States by the necessary time to fight this weekend. Luckily for Hunt, he got cleared for travel on Monday and arrived in Las Vegas for his scheduled fight against Junior Dos Santos.
Now, with a spot to fill on the UFC 161 card, the promotion is again calling on Nelson to potentially step in and help save the show.
Nelson's manager Mike Kogan spoke to Bleacher Report on Tuesday night and stated that it was "realistic" that the former Ultimate Fighter winner could end up on the UFC 161 card, although no opponent has been confirmed at this time.
Nelson is coming off of his third straight knockout victory—the latest coming at UFC 159 in April when he finished off Cheick Kongo in the first round.
Finding the right opponent and compensation could ultimately decide Nelson, or any fighter's involvement, with a new fight being put together on less than a month's notice.
It's likely the UFC will try to make a decision in the next few days to give Nelson and any potential opponent as much time as possible to prepare for a June 15 bout.
UPDATE: Nelson will in fact compete on the card and it will be against Ohio native Stipe Miocic, as the two heavyweights have agreed to meet on the card according to UFC President Dana White who confirmed the news with MMAJunkie.com on Tuesday night. Miocic was already scheduled for the card against Soa Palelei, but now he will get pulled to face Nelson instead.
There's been no word on a replacement to step in and face Palelei yet.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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