Former number one Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) number one Heavyweight contender, Gabriel Gonzaga, will return to a familiar place at UFC 146 to introduce undefeated Strikeforce import, Shane Del Rosario, to the Octagon on May 26, 2012.
The world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion tonight revealed the bout, which is set to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Memorial Day weekend. It will mark the fifteenth time Gonzaga will step inside the eight-walled cage, while Del Rosario will do it for the first time ever.
Gonzaga recently emerged from premature retirement after consecutive UFC losses to Junior dos Santos and Brendan Schaub in 2010. He came back to win a tune up fight against Parker Porter via submission in Oct. 2011 and then put his top-notch Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills to work once again when he tapped Ednaldo Oliveira with a rear naked choke at UFC 142 earlier this year.
"Napao" is one of the bigger and more dangerous fighters on the promotion's heavyweight roster, able to end fights with slick submissions and/or power punches. His cardio has always been questionable, however, which is a perceived weakness that a young upstart like Del Rosario might want to exploit on fight night.
Speaking of which, Del Rosario was on the fast track to superstardom in the Strikeforce heavyweight division before fate intervened. Undefeated after 11 professional fights, he was slated to take on fellow undefeated ex-Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier in June 2011 in a clash between two of MMA's top heavyweight prospects.
It never happened.
On April 14, 2011, he was involved in a bad car accident -- another driver crossed the median and T-boned del Rosario's car, causing serious damage to the former Muay Thai world champion's back, herniating multiple discs and putting his MMA career on hold.
Until Memorial Day Weekend 2012.
His last professional fight happened way back in Feb. 2011 when he submitted Lavar Johnson with a first round armbar at the "Fedor vs. Silva" event in an alternate match for Strikeforce's heavyweight grand prix, which now features none other than the aforementioned Cormier in the finals against Josh Barnett.
Sometimes these things happen for a reason.
UFC 146 will feature a main event between Junior dos Santos, defending his heavyweight title for the very first time, against another Strikeforce import, Alistair Overeem. Jason Miller vs. C.B. Dollaway is also booked for the show, as well as a a welterweight showdwon between Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig, among others.
As always, stay tuned to MMAmania.com for future updates to this rapidly-developing fight card.