This might come as a shock to the mixed martial arts (MMA) community, but Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight contender Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is not 100-percent healthy, despite accepting a fight against Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX 12 this July.
"Lil' Nog" has been on the shelf for over a year due to injuries. After a high-profile win against Rashad Evans at UFC 156, the Brazilian was slated for a Mauricio Rua rematch at UFC 161, but had to pull out after getting hurt. He was then re-booked to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Fight Night 37, but a bad back (among other things) forced him to withdraw.
It was the second time he stranded "The Mauler," with the first being at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in early 2012.
Nogueira (21-5) reassures the gang at MMA Fighting:
"I will be back. No problem, I will be back. I was out for so long, right? Rashad fought twice since our fight and I couldn't because of the injuries. But I will be back. I'm not 100-percent physically yet, but I'm getting there. I had two injuries. I had to undergo a knee surgery and had another back injury that forced me out of training for more than a year. But I will be at my best in two and a half months."
Nogueira was recently bounced from the official rankings (see them here) due to inactivity.
Johnson (17-4), meanwhile, made his Octagon return at UFC 172, after a flawless run on the regional circuit, and upended top division contender Phil Davis at the "Charm City" pay-per-view (PPV) event last month (April 26, 2014) in Baltimore, Maryland (see the video here).
A win over "Minotoro" will likely raise his stock even higher ... assuming he doesn't get stood up.