Heavyweights set to clash on July 21 card in Canada
The UFC heads to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for the first time this summer, and a heavyweight bout is now official for the card.
Heavyweight legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will meet Cheick Kongo on the main card. UFC president Dana White announced the fight pairing late Tuesday. UFC 149 takes place July 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Canada's third largest city.
Though the UFC initially said featherweight champion Jose Aldo was likely to headline the card, White said Tuesday in Brazil that Aldo may be added to the UFC 147 event on June 23 in Rio de Janeiro. He also said a light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and new top contender Dan Henderson would be possible for UFC 149.
Nogueira (33-7-1, 1 NC, 4-3 UFC) will return just over seven months after having his arm broken in December against Frank Mir at UFC 140. It was the first submission loss in the career of "Big Nog," who tapped to Mir, but too late as his humerus snapped. That fight was a rematch of the pair's UFC 92 fight, in which Mir knocked Nogueira out in the second round – becoming the first person to ever stop the legendary Brazilian with strikes.
Nogueira's UFC career, since his long run in Pride that saw him win the heavyweight title, has been mostly up and down. He opened with two straight wins over Heath Herring and Tim Sylvia, the latter of which earned him the interim UFC heavyweight title. But he's been up and down since then with the two losses to Mir and a knockout loss to Cain Velasquez, but impressive wins over Randy Couture and Brendan Schaub.
Kongo (17-7-2, 10-5-1 UFC) had put himself on a nice run after a loss to Mir at UFC 107 in December 2009. The Frenchman had a four-fight unbeaten streak with wins over Matt Mitrione, Pat Barry and Paul Buentello, plus a draw with Travis Browne that Kongo may have been on his way to winning if not for a point deduction for grabbing Browne's shorts. His win over Barry was one of the best in-fight comebacks in MMA history. Barry appeared to have his much bigger opponent knocked out on his feet. But Kongo managed to land some big shots seconds later and knocked Barry out, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
But that four-fight unbeaten streak came off the rails in February at UFC 144 in Japan when he was knocked out by a suddenly surging Mark Hunt just 2:11 into the first round. Kongo was nearly a 3-to-1 favorite in the fight.
The Nogueira-Kongo fight joins several other fights already announced for UFC 149, including a welterweight bout between Thiago Alves and Yoshihiro Akiyama.