Looks like UFC heavyweight hopeful Roy Nelson has been left at the altar.
That's because his belly-to-bicep battle royal with persnickety power-puncher Shane Carwin has been temporarily toe-tagged after "The Engineer" was forced to withdraw from their UFC 125 co-main event on Jan. 1 in Las Vegas due to a burdensome back attack.
And the bad news came right from Carwin himself:
"I am going to pull out of the fight with Roy Nelson. As many of you know I have been having some back pain. I had an MRI yesterday and I have some damage that may really require surgery. If the doctors do not have to perform surgery then I will be out 8-12 weeks. If they do have to perform surgery I do not know how long I will be out of action ... I owe myself, I owe my fans the best show I can give them. I need to get healthy. I am going to be speaking with the surgeon this week about the surgery. My thoughts are if the surgery fixes it why add 8-12 weeks of physical therapy, epidurals and traction if surgery may still be needed. The good news is the doctors said I can work on my cardio (they must have seen my last fight lol) with this injury."
Carwin held the division's Interim title when former champion Brock Lesnar had his intestines all up in a bunch late last year. Upon his return, the WWE-turned-MMA star survived a first round blitzkrieg to come back and submit the Greg Jackson-disciple via arm-triangle choke at UFC 116 on July 3.
It was Carwin's first loss in 12 appearances and now the former collegiate wrestling champion will have to wait just a little bit longer before he can exorcise his cardio demons from earlier this summer.
And with more than two full months to go, the chances of Nelson finding a new opponent are far from remote.
Perhaps he can serve as a rebound fight for ex-champion Brock Lesnar, or maybe even settle that long-standing feud with Frank Mir, who is probably looking for any excuse to get back into the cage and erase the memories of his UFC 119 stinker against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic in Indianapolis.
A win is critical for "Big Country" at this point in his UFC career, as he was on the fast-track to bigger and better opportunities within the division until he ran headfirst into a Brazilian roadblock named Junior dos Santos at UFC 117 last August.
"Cigano" took home the unanimous decision win and the right to challenge Cain Velasquez in the first quarter of 2011.
The loss snapped Nelson's undefeated streak since graduating from the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but you can bet your bottom dollar that a win over another top name like Mir would carry him right back to the top of the contender's list.
UFC 125: "Resolution" will be headlined by lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, as he defends his title in a rematch against undefeated challenger Gray Maynard. Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann and Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera have also been announced for the Jan. 1 pay-per-view.
Keep it locked in to MMAmania.com for more updates to this still-developing fight card.