Brock Lesnar? Sick. Lyoto Machida? Hurt. Anderson Silva? Recovering. Georges St. Pierre? Rehabbing. BJ Penn? Busy.
That's the hand the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was dealt as it prepares for its traditional blockbuster year-end pay-per-view (PPV) event, which is slated for the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 2.
So with all its champions unable to headline the card, the promotion today announced that former UFC interim heavyweight champion and mixed martial arts legend, Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira, would indeed face off against undefeated rising star, Cain Velasquez, in the UFC 108 main event of the evening.
But just because there is no title at stake doesn't mean there isn't a lot on the line.
UFC President Dana White explains the significance:
"Nogueira vs. Velasquez is a great matchup between the present and the future of the heavyweight division. Nogueira showed in the Couture fight that he still has plenty left to offer at the top level of the game, and Velasquez was devastating in his win over Ben Rothwell, so with both guys in top form, we’re definitely going to see a number one contender emerge from this fight to take on the winner of the Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin title fight."
UFC 108 was expected to feature a reshuffled main event between ailing heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar, and number one division contender, Shane Carwin. However, Lesnar is still suffering from a serious illness, mononucleosis, which scrapped the intended main event at UFC 106 on Nov. 21.
As expected, former 205-pound champion, Rashad Evans, will collide with Brazilian slugger, Thiago Silva, in the co-featured fight of the night.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more on UFC 108 as it develops and everything else.