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Rumor: 'Big Nog' to make UFC debut against Brandon Vera?

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (29-4-1) could face Brandon Vera (8-0) in his first bout inside the Octagon, according to Sam Caplan at

The moster addition of "Big Nog" to the UFC heavyweight class was just announced at UFC 69 on April 7.

Caplan warns that it's a "total rumor," but I feel compelled to pass it along because -- if accurate -- it's such a juicy match up.

And, it seems well within the realm of possibility.

Here's the entire snip:

"This is total rumor, but I've been hearing a lot of talk that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's first UFC fight could be against Brandon Vera. Take that for what it's worth. I'm trying to get some sort of official confirmation."

With Randy Couture, Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic, Gabriel Gonzaga, Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum all tied up in the near future, there are few "big name" fighters available to fight the former PRIDE FC heavyweight champion.

In fact, the only other competitive option besides Vera is former UFC heavyweight titleholder Tim Sylvia.

Of course, the UFC can feed Nogueira a can or journeyman to build up name recognition among fans.

But a showdown with someone like Vera -- a young and exciting fighter -- would no doubt be a solid addition to any pay-per-view (PPV) card.

Vera has been on the shelf since November 2006 because of a contract dispute and it is still unclear if the issue has been resolved. However, he does have one fight remaining on his current deal.

"Minotauro" also last fought in late 2006, outpointing Josh Barnett on the judges scorecards at Pride: Shockwave on New Year's Eve.

Here's to hoping that we see this fight one day real soon.

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