Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has withdrawn from a headlining heavyweight bout with Cain Velasquez at UFC 108 on Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. UFC President Dana White announced the news following the UFC 105 post-fight press conference in Manchester, England.
White said the infection had become serious after entering Nogueira’s blood stream and that the Brazilian might need to be hospitalized and fed an intravenous antibiotic to combat it.
Ed Soares, Nogueira's manager, could not immediately be reached for comment.
When reached by Sherdog.com Saturday, Velasquez’s trainer, Javier Mendez, said he hadn’t been informed yet of the withdrawal. It is unclear if the undefeated Velasquez will remain on the UFC card, which has suffered through multiple failed attempts to line up a main event.
Velasquez, arguably the fastest-rising star in mixed martial arts, blew out one-time International Fight League strongman Ben Rothwell in the UFC 104 co-main event in October. Based at the American Kickboxing Academy, he has finished six of his first seven opponents. Velasquez was a two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University.
The Nogueira-Velasquez victor would have likely decided a contender for the winner of an upcoming bout between UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. That fight has been postponed twice, as Lesnar recovers from mononucleosis.
White said an alternate pairing between Velasquez and Carwin would not be possible, as Carwin recently underwent knee surgery while waiting for Lesnar to recover. Carwin posted on his Twitter account Saturday that he should be "ready to fight by Feb."
A light heavyweight matchup pairing former champion Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva remains at the helm of the Jan. 2 event.
Evans, a coach on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, has not competed since he surrendered his title to Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in May. Silva, meanwhile, will enter the pivotal 205-pound tilt off his technical knockout victory over Evans’ teammate, Keith Jardine, at UFC 102.
Update: The article was updated at 9:15 p.m. ET to add information about Carwin's surgery.