Opinion: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira Injury Provides New Opportunities
By Michael Hatamoto
Brazilian MMA veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira didn’t accept a fight with Alexander Gustafsson, which is why the fight was mysteriously nixed a week after it was announced, according to UFC President Dana White.
Nogueira was supposed to be a stepping stone for Gustafsson to see if he can immediately get back into a title shot.
Here is what White said in Brazil:
“What happened was that night we decided to make the fight. Gustafsson said yes, and they couldn’t get hold of him, so I said ‘F**k it, and just went with it and announced the fight, and of course, he’s hurt.”
White seems frustrated that “Lil Nog” is constantly hurt, as he’s only stepped into the cage six times through the past four years. The scheduled Gustafsson-Nogueira fight wasn’t until March but Nogueira already decided he’s injured – even though the UFC is trying to get him in the cage more frequently.
The fight falling through also impacted Gustafsson’s chance to get a fight with a big name and try to bounce back towards another title shot.
I didn’t think Gustafsson fighting Lil Nog made much sense, but a fight against Jimi Manuwa in London next March won’t seem overly impressive. Following the war he went through with light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, I think Gustafsson deserves an immediate rematch – but it became clear that wouldn’t happen.
On the other hand, Nogueira’s injury opened the door for Minuwa to step up in competition and see if he’s a proven talent. The British striker is riding a 14-0 record and has finished all 14 fights before the start of the third round, and has beaten Kyle Kingsbury, Cyrille Diabate, and Ryan Jimmo in his short UFC career.
Gustafsson fighting heavyweight Daniel Cormier won’t happen until Cormier can show he has the ability to drop down to meet the 205-lb. weight limit. This is Minuwa’s opportunity, because even with a loss he can still greatly increase his stock.