Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is getting a ton of flack for withdrawing from a matchup with top contender Alexander Gustafsson, but according to UFC President Dana White, the highly regarded Brazilian fighter never accepted the bout.
"The fight isn't for four months, and he's already determined he's hurt," White said regarding Nogueira. "I don't understand that. The guy is always hurt. Every time you call him, he's hurt. What happened was that night we decided to make the fight, Gustafsson said yes, and they couldn't get hold of (Little Nog), so I said, 'F--- it,' and just went with it and announced the fight. And of course, he's hurt."
According to the UFC's official rankings, "Little Nog" is the fifth-best 205-pounder in the world, and rightfully so, after back-to-back wins over former champions Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore Nogueira's recent durability issues, only competing six times in the past four years.
At 37 years old, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt may want to start considering retirement as the long-term training injuries continue to pile up.
Instead of Nogueira, Gustafsson will now face undefeated prospect Jimi Manuwa in London on March 8 at a yet to be named event, per MMA Mania.
UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones was critical of the initial matchmaking, stating that Nogueira vs. Gustafsson made no sense from a rankings standpoint, per MMA Fighting.
Will Nogueira ever be able to turn back the clock and return to the vintage form he enjoyed inside the Pride ring, or are his best days as a fighter clearly behind him at this point?