Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 | 6:30 p.m.
All of Anthony Njokuani’s plans for this week have fallen apart.
Njokuani, a Las Vegas-based UFC lightweight, was scheduled to face Paul Taylor in a main card bout at UFC 138 Saturday. As soon as Njokuani’s plane landed in Birmingham, England, on Tuesday, however, he found out Taylor had suffered severe whiplash in a car accident and the bout was off.
“At first, I was concerned about his health and concerned if he would be OK,” Njokuani said. “Then after that, I was kind of bummed that we weren’t going to be able to fight.”
But Njokuani is a positive guy, so he decided he would make the most of it. It’s not every day a business trip turns into a free vacation anyway.
Njokuani figured he’d relax and soak in the environment of the United Kingdom’s second biggest city. The weather got in the way of that.
“I’ve been trying to sightsee, but it’s too gloomy here,” Njokuani said. “It makes it so I just have to sit in my room. I really haven’t left the hotel.”
The loss of the fight weakens a card that lacked depth from the beginning. Because they both employ a striking-first style, Taylor vs. Njokuani projected as one of the most exciting matchups at the event.
Njokuani said the bout would have likely won Fight of the Night honors.
“My (apologies) to Anthony Njokuani and the UFC, would have been a great fight,” Taylor tweeted after his accident. “Hopefully we can reschedule in the future.”
It remains to be seen if that will happen, according to Njokuani. He’s staying in shape and working out while in England. Njokuani plans to get right back in the gym when he returns home after the event.
He’d still like the opportunity to face Taylor, but doesn’t have his heart set on it.
“The main thing I’m trying to do right now is get a fight as soon as I can,” Njokuani said. “If I’m able to fight Paul Taylor in Vegas or wherever else, then sure. But if not, if they have anyone else for me to fight, I’m always open. I’m always ready.”
Njokuani hinted at fighting at home before the end of the year. Las Vegas is scheduled to host two more UFC cards before the end of the year — “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale on Dec. 4 at the Palms and UFC 141 on Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s no surprise Njokuani wants to rush back to competition. His profile has enjoyed a substantial boost after his first two UFC fights.
He throttled Andre Winner en route to a unanimous decision at UFC 132 after dropping a close decision to Edson Barboza in a fight that won Fight of the Night at UFC 128.
“That’s a reason why I wanted the fight with Paul Taylor,” Njokuani said. “I knew we could put on that type of show again.”
Njokuani also felt great, as he implemented a new nutrition plan to make his weight cut easier. He boarded the plane to England only slightly over the 156-pound limit and said it was the lightest he had been a week before a fight in his career.
He’s disappointed he won’t be able to showcase all that he’s worked on — for the moment.
“Things happen,” Njokuani said. “I’ve got to let it go, put it behind me and keep on going.”