UFC 161 Fight Card: Possible Replacement Opponents for Mauricio Rua
The UFC 161 fight card was bitten by the injury bug once again on Sunday, as Globo.com reported that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira had been injured and would be forced out of his scheduled bout with fellow Brazilian Mauricio Rua. Less than two weeks ago, a bantamweight title fight was removed from the event due to a Renan Barao injury.
Not long after Globo broke the news on the Nogueira injury, MMAJunkie.com reporter John Morgan confirmed the unfortunate developments with UFC officials.
Unfortunately, I have confirmed the Rogerio injury story. Promotion is currently looking for replacement, I'm told.— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) June 2, 2013
With fellow light heavyweights Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans headlining UFC 161 now, "Shogun" is not left with many potential top-10 opponents. However, the UFC could make a few moves that would allow Rua to remain on the fight card and in an intriguing matchup.
Perhaps the most interesting replacement opponent for Rua would be Glover Teixeira. Undefeated in four UFC bouts, Teixeira has risen to become a serious contender in the light heavyweight division, but he's still looking for that signature win over a relevant top-10 fighter which would cement him as one of the biggest title threats in the division.
One issue with that matchup, though, is that Rua has already turned it down in a similar situation. After Thiago Silva was forced out of UFC 149 bout with him, Rua said no to a fight with Teixeira and ended up meeting Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4.
"He would rather be cut than fight him," UFC president Dana White said of Rua's response to a potential fight with Teixeira.
Even if Rua has changed his tune regarding the matchup, Teixeira just fought James Te-Huna on May 25. Any nagging problems from that fight would put a hole in any plans to book a fight between Rua and Teixeira.
If a bout between "Shogun" and Teixeira doesn't come to fruition, Wanderlei Silva would be a fantasy matchup for Rua. Unfortunately, the chances of Rua accepting that fight would be even more slim, as he and Silva became friends after training together at Chute Box Academy for years.
Should the UFC find a way to convince Rua and Silva to put friendship aside for one night, it could produce a Fight of the Year or Knockout of the Year candidate. "Shogun" and "The Axe Murderer" are both brutally aggressive strikers even as age appears to be catching up with them.
While Rua fights with Teixeira or Silva would be big draws for a suffering UFC 161 pay-per-view, a less exciting matchup could result from Nogueira's injury.
Bleacher Report's own Scott Harris made one of the more logical suggestions in the aftermath of the Nogueira injury news.
I'd just bump Ryan Jimmo up the card to face Shogun. Jimmo's local and it's a good solid fight. Done and done. #UFC161— Scott Harris (@ScottHarrisMMA) June 2, 2013
While it'd hurt to buy a pay-per-view with this as a co-main event, we're probably most likely to see Rua meet Ryan Jimmo at UFC 161. Jimmo is already booked to fight on the fight card and is native of Canada, where the event will be held.
Rua lost in his last outing, so it wouldn't be a travesty to match him up with an opponent who is also coming off of a loss. The UFC will also be able to sell Jimmo's ability to mount an upset with a single punch, as he's not long removed from tying the fastest knockout in UFC history with a seven-second stoppage of Anthony Perosh.
Jimmo's currently scheduled opponent, Igor Pokrajac is low-ranked and lost his last fight, so the UFC shouldn't have difficulty finding a suitable replacement for him. If they can't, well, there would be much less of an outcry from fans should Pokrajac be removed from the fight card in comparison to Rua being scratched.
While the matchup between Rua and Jimmo might have some fans sitting on their wallets, it's looking like the most likely outcome from this unfortunate situation within two weeks of the UFC 161 fight card.
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