The UFC rankings were released yesterday, with Alan Belcher and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira still ranked in the top 15 of middleweight and light heavyweight respectively. Belcher had recently announced he was taking time off from the sport, and if he ever returned he'd come back at LHW. His last fight was an April 2013 decision loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 159. Nogueira hasn't fought since his upset win over Rashad Evans at UFC 156 last February, but the victory still merited a place in the top 10.
As of today, both men have been removed from the rankings entirely. Belcher's #13 spot is now occupied by Brad Tavares, while Yoel Romero is placed 14th, while Chael Sonnen, who hasn't won a fight at 185 since 2012, is back in at #15. Nogueira was slotted at 7th, and his removal bumped everyone below him one spot and Ovince St. Preux made his rankings debut at #15.
Speculation about their future with the organization began when their profiles were removed from the UFC's official list of fighters:
[Deleted] Alan Belcher (Middle) [Deleted] Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Light Heavy) http://t.co/GeU9kLzLL9— UFCFIGHTERSiNFO (@UFCFIGHTERSiNFO) March 25, 2014
While their profiles are still available via their specific weight classes, the "All" section does not have either man on the website.
UFC officials told Bloody Elbow earlier today that both men were still under contract. It was revealed last week that Joe Silva tried to set up Rich Franklin against Lil' Nog, but Franklin turned the planned May 10th bout down.
We've known about Belcher's plans for some time and it's possible that he's called it a career, but Nogueira being pulled from the rankings suggests the UFC has either decided that he wouldn't be ranked due to his inactivity, they've released him, or Nogueira has retired/had his own hiatus.
We'll update you on any further developments on the UFC futures of Belcher and Lil' Nog as they become available.
UPDATE AT 9:04 PM ET: Both profiles are now back on the main roster.
[Added] Alan Belcher (Middle) [Added] Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Light Heavy) http://t.co/GeU9kLzLL9— UFCFIGHTERSiNFO (@UFCFIGHTERSiNFO) March 26, 2014