Roy Nelson vs. Gabriel Gonzaga Set for Reshuffled Main Card at UFC 146

Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC)

TUF 10 winner meets former heavyweight title challenger May 26

The UFC 146 shuffle continues, and Roy Nelson will now face Gabriel Gonzaga on the all-heavyweight main card.

UFC 146 is set for May 26 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The main event was scheduled to be a heavyweight title fight between champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem. But on Friday, UFC president Dana White pulled Overeem from the fight, anticipating him not being licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at a hearing today. White announced Frank Mir as the new title challenger, moving him out of a top contenders fight with Cain Velasquez in the co-main event on the card.

That left Velasquez in need of a new opponent, and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva was moved up from his fight with Nelson for that spot. And that, of course, left Nelson in need of a new opponent – so Nelson was moved up from a fight against Shane Del Rosario that was also booked for the main card.

Nelson (16-7, 3-3 UFC) has had a rough go of it since starting his UFC career 2-0, including a knockout win over Brendan Schaub to win Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” After a second straight Knockout of the Night bonus for a 39-second stoppage of Stefan Struve in March 2010, Nelson has lost three of his last four fights.

At UFC 143 in February, Nelson lost a Fight of the Night unanimous decision to Fabricio Werdum that left him battered and bloodied – but unable to be finished. That erased the knockout win he had over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 137 last October that had him back in the win column after back-to-back losses to dos Santos and Mir.

Gonzaga (13-6, 8-5 UFC) returned to the UFC in January at UFC 142 in his native Brazil and picked up a first-round submission victory over Ednaldo Oliveira, a highly touted and then-unbeaten training partner of dos Santos. Gonzaga, who started his UFC career 4-0, including a legendary head-kick knockout of Cro Cop, challenged Randy Couture for the heavyweight title at UFC 74, losing by third-round TKO. Since that loss, it was an up-and-down stretch for “Napao.” He went 3-4 in the UFC with wins over middle-of-the-pack fighters, none of which currently are with the promotion, and losses to Werdum, Shane Carwin, dos Santos and Schaub. The latter two wound up costing him his UFC job. But after a win outside the promotion, the Massachusetts-based Gonzaga was brought back to the UFC with a new deal and a fight in his home country for the first time since 2004.

The genesis of the UFC 146 main card switches is from Overeem running afoul of the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier this month when it was revealed a pre-fight drug test he took tested positive for elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels. Overeem on Friday was removed from the card by White, who previously had said that regardless of what might happen for an opponent for dos Santos, the Velasquez vs. Mir fight would remain on the card. Overeem was scheduled to appear in front of the NSAC on Tuesday and is expected to request a continuance in his case. In a statement released yesterday, Overeem said his elevated T/E ratio was due to a doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. His tested levels were in excess of 10:1, according to the NSAC, and have been reported to be 14:1. The NSAC’s maximum standard is 6:1. Other state commissions have a standard of 4:1. The average male has a T/E ratio of 1:1.

Along with the all-heavyweight main card, UFC 146 features a featherweight fight between TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao and Darren Elkins; a middleweight bout between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and C.B. Dollaway; a welterweight bout between Dan Hardy and Duane Ludwig; lightweight fights between Paul Sass and Jacob Volkmann and Edson Barboza and Evan Dunham; and former WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda.