"Shogun" vs. Evans, Pellegrino vs. Tibau slated for UFC 129

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A UFC 128 title fight between light-heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Rashad Evans (15-1-1 MMA, 10-1-1 UFC) now will take the main-event slot of a UFC 129 show expected to take place in New Jersey.

Additionally, a lightweight bout between local fighter Kurt Pellegrino (15-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) and Gleison Tibau (21-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) is in the works for the show.

Although not officially announced by the organization, UFC 129 is expected to take place March 19 at the Prudential Center in Newark and air on pay-per-view.

Initially, UFC 128 was expected to take place March 12 in Adu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. But as MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) cautioned, officials hadn't been able to secure a venue and hinted that the show could move. On Tuesday, sportsnet.ca first reported the rescheduling of "Shogun" vs. Evans to the UFC 129 slot, and today, Pellegrino announced via Twitter his fight with Tibau. Sources close to the event today confirmed both bookings.

Additionally, as MMAjunkie.com first reported, officials initially planned to host a March 12 event overseas (the potential Abu Dhabi show) and a March 19 event in the U.S. But the shows now could be combined into a single event, so the currently titled UFC 129 event could become UFC 128.

Rua, a longtime star with the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships, is 3-1 since his promotional-debut loss to Forrest Griffin. The lone defeat came to Lyoto Machida in their first meeting, and many in the industry panned the unanimous decision and felt Rua won the fight. Seven months later in the rematch, he needed less than a round to score a knockout and win the belt from his fellow Brazilian. He's now recovering from a knee injury.

Evans earned another shot at the title with a May win over rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the main event of UFC 114. Although he said he'd be open to an interim-title fight if Rua were to experience a lengthy layoff, he later said he'd prefer to wait for the champion. Evans, who also has defeated Thiago Silva since losing his belt, now will have a yearlong layoff while waiting for his shot to reclaim the title.

Pellegrino, meanwhile, recently saw a four-fight win streak snapped with a unanimous-decision loss to George Sotiropoulos back in July. Prior to the loss, Pellegrino, who's been sidelined by his recovery from knee surgery, posted submission wins over Rob Emerson and Fabricio Camoes and decision victories over Thiago Tavares and Josh Neer.

Tibau entered the title picture with a recent 4-1 run in the UFC that saw wins over the likes of Jeremy Stephens, Caol Uno and Neer. But in his most recent bout at UFC Fight Night 22, the American Top Team product suffered a decision loss to division standout Jim Miller.

In addition to those bouts, a fight between Tito Ortiz (15-8-1 MMA, 14-8-1 UFC) and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) also is expected to move from UFC 128 to UFC 129.

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