With Forrest Griffin forced off the UFC 114 card due to a shoulder injury, who is the replacement going to be to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira?
The options on the current UFC roster are limited. There are not many guys not currently signed to a fight. Now, the UFC could move a guy out of a fight to face Nogueira.
Thiago Silva has a fight planned for August and he would not be ready to go in May. Ryan Bader is still recovering from surgery. Brandon Vera still has a broken face. Steve Cantwell’s condition is uncertain. Brian Stann is planning a move to 185 lbs. Essentially that leaves: Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Jared Hamman, and Jason Brilz. Brilz and Hamman are possible, but not a big enough name. The question is do you want to risk giving Phil Davis or Jon Jones to Nogueira. Both Davis and Jones are elite prospects and potential future champions. However, a Jon Jones fight would certainly draw fan attention. A few other options: Tim Boetsch who has just re-signed, but is scheduled to face Thiago Silva in August. We could see Hamill or Jardine moved off the headliner of the TUF Finale. Also, Stephan Bonnar and Kryzstof Soszynski could be moved out of their July fight to this card.
There are several guys currently not on the UFC roster who could be signed to face Nogueira, but will the UFC be willing to sign a guy they see as a prospect to face such a tough opponent? I believe the non-UFC options are limited. Here are a few names I will throw out…
1. Glover Teixiera – was at one time near a deal with the UFC, but visa issues changed that plan. He is still a potential top tier fighter, but not sure if this could be worked out in time and he may be too valuable a procpect to give to Nog.
2. Tony Lopez – He is the King of the Cage champion and he currently has an upcoming fight. However, he is coming off of a loss. While he may eventually get to a bigger show, I doubt it is here and now against Little Nog. Still possible.
3. Mike Ciesnolevicz
4. Eric Schafer – Recently cut by the UFC
5. Seth Petruzelli – He has a fight coming up in May, but perhaps he could opt out of it for the UFC. He’d be a good guy to feed to little Nog and then face Kimbo.
6. Mamed Khalidov – I saw him listed somewhere as a free agent, however I think he is signed with Sengoku still. Also, he has a fight in May, but he’d be a solid add, but more of a middleweight.
7. A Up and comer like Raphael Davis, Chris Bell or Karol Bedorf
With that said, I would say that the most likely candidates are Jon Jones, Phil Davis and Tim Boetsch. Just a hunch.