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Roy Nelson to Face Dave Herman, Jamie Varner Returns at UFC 146

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Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC, Getty Images
Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC, Getty Images

A pair of injuries have forced changes to the much-anticipated UFC 146 on May 26, leading to a new opponent for a popular heavyweight and the return of a former champion.

An undisclosed injury forced Gabriel Gonzaga to drop out of his main-card heavyweight showdown with popular Roy Nelson. In his place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will step Dave Herman.

Nelson is coming off a loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143, in which he took a hellacious beating but survived to a decision. The fighter nicknamed "Big Country" has dropped three of his past four bouts, all via decision. Herman (21-3) has won three of his past four fights, but is coming off a second-round TKO loss at the hands of Stefan Struve on Feb. 15.

An injury has also taken lightweight Evan Dunham out of his undercard match against Edson Barboza. Substituting for Barboza is former WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner. Varner won the WEC title in Feb. 2008 and held it nearly two years. But his title loss to Ben Henderson kicked off an 0-3-1 run that led to his Zuffa departure.

Varner (19-6-1) went 3-1 after leaving Zuffa, with all three of his wins via first-round finish. He'll have his work cut out for him in his return bout, as he faces a foe in Barboza (10-0) who's not only unbeaten, but has won Fight of the Night honors in his past three matches. His most recent win was a sensational spinning wheel kick KO of Terry Etim at UFC 142.

The new fights were announced by the company on Tuesday night.