Fighters.com Exclusive: “Ninja” Murilo Rua To Replace “Minotoro” Nogueira at Bitetti Combat

Okay…now “Minotoro” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (15-3) has officially jumped ship from the Bitetti Combat card in Rio de Janeiro 12 September and has been replaced by “Ninja” Murilo Rua (16-10-1), brother of Fighters.com’s sixth-ranked light heavyweight and UFC title challenger “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (18-3).

Rua will fight Nogueira’s intended opponent, “Brazilian Killa” Alex Stiebling (19-10-1), in what becomes a more evenly matched fight. Rua lost a two-round UD to Riki Fukuda (12-4) at DREAM 8 in Nagoya 5 April.

Stiebling lost by second round TKO to “Chteki” Moise Rimbon (12-8-2) at Bodog Fight 3 in Costa Rica in February 2007.

Rogerio’s twin brother, fifth-ranked heavyweight and former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (31-5-1), had announced on a Tuesday media conference call that “Li’l Nog’” was negotiating with the UFC and would be dropping off the Bitetti card, later confirmed to MMA Weekly by the Nogueira brothers’ manager Ed Soares.

However, Fighters.com reported how “Minotoro” had made a personal commitment to promoter Amaury Bitetti (5-2) the very day of his brother’s announcement, hedging in case a deal couldn’t be worked with the UFC. The organizers of Bitetti Combat become wary of the likelihood Rogerio would eventually break his promise and contacted Rua to replace him.

Though Fighters.com’s sources couldn’t confirm the status of negotiations between Rogerio and the UFC, his official absence from Bitetti hints that negotiations have concluded successfully and the Nogueira brothers will reunite in the UFC. Fighters.com expects an official announcement from the UFC toot sweet.

Bitetti Combat will be broadcast 12 September on RedeTV! in Brazil and Fighters.com’s sources indicate a deal broadcasting the card to North America on HDNet is nigh.