Onetime featherweight king Alexandre Franca Nogueira is back. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
Two of Brazil’s fighting sons are set to compete on home soil for the first time next month.
Onetime Strikeforce veteran Igor Gracie and former Shooto world champion Alexandre Franca Nogueira were this week confirmed for Duelo de Titas (Clash of the Titans), a March 24 event at Aecio Tocantins Gymnasium in the Mato Grossan capital of Cuiaba.
Gracie will tangle with Manuelo “Etoube” Morales of Peru for the company’s vacant 170-pound title. Though born in Rio de Janeiro, the 32-year-old member of Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s first family has spent the duration of his brief MMA career fighting stateside. Following a lackluster 1-2 start, Gracie has rattled off three straight wins via submission, posting victories over John Salgado and Quinton McCottrell in 2011.
Nogueira, 34, will end a 28-month layoff when he takes on another Peruvian, Diego Wilson. A pioneer in MMA’s featherweight division, “Pequeno” used his vice-like guillotine choke to rule the 143-pound roost of Japan’s Shooto organization from 1999 until 2005.
The Brazilian made his stateside debut in June 2008, falling by knockout to eventual successor Jose Aldo at WEC 34, and was subsequently suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for use of the anabolic steroid Boldenone. Nogueira has not competed in MMA since October 2009, when he was halted by then-Shooto champ “Lion” Takeshi Inoue on fourth-round punches. Sources this week informed Sherdog.com that Rio native Nogueira is returning with eyes on a move to 135 pounds.
Other matchups confirmed for the March 24 event include a lightweight tilt between Gracie Fusion fighter Eduardo Pachu and CM System representative Bruno Carvalho, and a welterweight affair pitting northeastern vet Sergio Junior against Peruvian David Cubas.