A highly anticipated heavyweight matchup between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Cain Velasquez (7-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) may take place Down Under.
Despite reports circulating today that Nogueira and Velasquez will meet at UFC 109 in Las Vegas, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) has learned from sources close to the organization that the UFC is actually leaning toward booking the fight for UFC 110 in Australia.
Verbal agreements are in place for the contest, though bout agreements have not yet been finalized.
Nogueira and Velasquez were expected to meet in the main event of UFC 108 on Jan. 2, but a severe case of staph infection forced "Minotauro" out of the bout.
Nogueira has since undergone treatment for the infection and recently told MMAWeekly.com that he would be ready to fight in February Ė and that he would love to fight in Australia.
"In February, I think Iíll be in shape," Nogueira said. "I'd love to fight in Australia. If they put me on the card, I would love to fight there."
Prior to the cancellation of the Jan. 2 bout, UFC president Dana White announced that the winner of the contest would receive a heavyweight title shot.
"Nogueira vs. Velasquez is a great matchup between the present and the future of the heavyweight division," White stated. "Nogueira showed in the (Randy) Couture fight that he still has plenty left to offer at the top level of the game, and Velasquez was devastating in his win over Ben Rothwell, so with both guys in top form, we're definitely going to see a No. 1 contender emerge from this fight to take on the winner of the Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin title fight."
Nogueira briefly held the UFC's interim heavyweight title, which he earned by defeating Tim Sylvia in February 2008. Nogueira's lone loss in the UFC came in his next bout, a TKO defeat to Frank Mir in December 2008. The former PRIDE champion bounced back with a win over Couture in the main event of UFC 102 in August.
Meanwhile, Velasquez has long been touted as one of the heavyweight division's most-promising prospects. The American Kickboxing Academy product has earned five-straight UFC wins since debuting in April 2008.
For complete coverage of UFC 110, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.
(Pictured: Cain Velasquez)
John Morgan is the lead staff reporter for MMAjunkie.com.