After a day of rumors that Chael Sonnen would be stepping in to face Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 161 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the UFC announced late Monday night that Rua has been pulled from the June 15th show.
According to sources close to the negotiations, they are now working on a Rua vs. Sonnen for the debut show on Fox Sports 1, on Aug. 17 at the T.D. Gardens in Boston.
As soon as the news got out of Nogueira's back injury, Sonnen (27-13-1), on twitter, posted that he would take the fight. During the day there were reports of the fight taking place in Winnipeg, but those within the company were saying they were working on it, but it wasn't a done deal. A deal was unable to be completed, but the two have seemingly agreed to fight in Boston, which would give both men time for a full training camp.
Because the show had already lost its main event, Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland, a scheduled interim bantamweight title match, due to Barao suffering torn ligaments in his right foot, there was even more pressure than usual to not lose another star from the show.
Rua vs. Nogueira was originally scheduled as the No. 3 fight. With the main event falling out, it became the No. 2 fight, behind the new main event of Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans.
As the debut show in a market where UFC has done strong numbers on pay-per-view for years, UFC virtually sold out the MTS Centre with 13,000 tickets and a $3 million house on the first weekend tickets were put on sale.
The remainder of the five-fight main card in Winnipeg will be heavyweights Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic, the new No. 2 fight on the show, along with the UFC debuts of Rosi Sexton vs. Alexis Davis, another heavyweight match with Shawn Jordan vs. Pat Barry, and a light heavyweight fight with Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac. The latter fight was moved up from the prelims.