A light heavyweight matchup between Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva will headline UFC 108 now that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is unable to fight Cain Velasquez, the UFC announced Monday.
“The bout between Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva is a fight we always talked about as a main event, and now these guys have the chance to headline UFC 108 and kick off the new year in impressive fashion," UFC President Dana White said in a news release. "At the same time, we wish Antonio Nogueira a speedy recovery and can't wait for his return.”
The fight, scheduled for Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is Evans’ first since losing his light heavyweight title to Lyoto Machida in May.
“Being able to get right back in the mix and right back into a main event is an honor,” Evans said. “This is the first step in getting my title back. Thiago is a dangerous fighter standing up and on the ground and I always relish an opportunity to fight the best and put on a great show for the fans.”
Silva stopped Evans’ teammate Keith Jardine in August at UFC 102. He is 5-1 in the UFC.
“I feel that the bigger the fight, the better I do,” Silva said. “Being in the main event for a UFC card has always been a goal of mine. Rashad is a great fighter, but he’d better come prepared in all aspects of mixed martial arts.”
Nogueira withdrew from the Velasquez bout due to a staph infection on his left elbow. According to the UFC news release, Nogueira must undergo treatment for at least three weeks.
“I am so disappointed,” Nogueira said. “I am sorry to my fans, but I have learned from my mistakes, and I’m not going into a fight unless I can give 100 percent my best performance. I have to be in top form, and then I can guarantee an exciting fight, a battle like what they saw at UFC 102. I appreciate all the fans around the world who are supporting me right now so much, and my next fight, a great fight, I give to them.”
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