Gabriel Gonzaga returns to the UFC on Jan. 14. | Photo: Terry Goodlad
Onetime UFC heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga has signed a new, four-fight deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion and will return to the Octagon at UFC 142, according to a statement released by the fighter's team on Friday.
Team Link announced the news Friday on its website, revealing that “Napao” will square off with countryman Edinaldo Oliveira at the Jan. 14 event, which emanates from HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Oliveira was originally supposed to meet Rob Broughton at the show, but UFC officials announced earlier today that the Brit had been pulled from the proceedings due to injury.
Slated to air live on pay-per-view in the United States, UFC 142 will be headlined by a featherweight title confrontation pitting Jose Aldo against Chad Mendes. In the co-main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort will square off with Anthony Johnson at 185 pounds.
A 12-time UFC veteran, Gonzaga debuted with the promotion in 2005, rattling off four straight wins before challenging Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title in 2007. Unable to capture the title from the seasoned Couture, Gonzaga was then finished by Fabricio Werdum to kick off 2008.
“Napao” rebounded from the defeats by winning three of his next four but would ultimately exit the promotion after falling in back-to-back contests to Junior dos Santos and Brendan Schaub in 2010. After stepping away from competition for nearly a year, Gonzaga returned to the cage on Oct. 8, submitting Parker Porter to win the Reality Fighting heavyweight championship.