Already headlined by a clash between respected light heavyweights, it appears as though another set of talented 205ers will be gracing a March 19 card the UFC has planned for Newark, New Jersey. Joining the previously announced pairing of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defending his title against top contender Rashad Evans, Octagon-icon Tito Ortiz will attempt to right his teetering career against always-game opponent Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
The rumored match-up was reported by Canadian media outlet SportsNet who also broke word of the event’s occurrence.
Ortiz’s struggles as of late are well-documented in the media, as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has four losses and a draw in his last five fights without a win over anyone other than Ken Shamrock since the first half of 2006. However, the former light heavyweight champion appears to still have gas in his tank, as he nearly defeated Forrest Griffin in November 2009, though he ultimately lost by way of split-decision, and also went fifteen full minutes against Lyoto Machida with a near-submission at the end a little more than a year prior. Still, after the run of misfortune in the ring including a clear-cut point-based loss to Matt Hamill after a year off from action at UFC 121 in October, Ortiz still has questions to answer about his future in MMA
Enter Nogueira, a 19-4 PRIDE veteran with finishing performances against Luis Cane, Vlad Matyushenko, Dan Henderson, and Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem. He is 2-1 since signing with the UFC and will be looking to bounce back from a solid showing against undefeated 205-pound contender Ryan Bader last September in Indianapolis at UFC 119.
In addition to Nogueira vs. Ortiz, as well as the first defense of “Shogun” Rua’s run as light heavyweight champ, the card (labeled UFC 129) is also set to feature a lightweight match-up between New Jersey native Kurt Pellegrino and Gleison Tibau. Their forthcoming fight was announced by Pellegrino yesterday via Twitter.