Antonio Rogerio Nogueira returns to the Octagon this evening after over a year on the sidelines. And he isn’t just taking on a nobody; he’s facing former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.
The two will comprise the co-main event for UFC 156 from Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Nogueira (20-5) was on the sidelines for the duration of 2012 after defeating Tito Ortiz in late 2011. The win improved his UFC record to 3-2, and as Nogueira told MMAjunkie.com recently, this is a career-defining fight.
“This fight is the most important fight of my life,” Nogueira said. “I’m just focused on this fight. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to try to do my best. If I win, I think I’m going to be in a good place in the light heavyweight division.”
Nogueira’s extended absence likely pushed him back a bit in the rankings, but a win over Evans – who has only lost to current champ Jon Jones and former champ Lyoto Machida – would vault him into a marquee bout later this year.