UFC 145: 6 Questions We Have About Brendan Schaub

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2012

UFC 145: 6 Questions We Have About Brendan Schaub

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    Brendan Schaub is set to take on grizzled MMA vet Ben Rothwell at UFC 145 this Saturday. "The Hybrid" is looking to rebound from a knockout loss to mild-hitting Minotauro Nogueira last August.

    Schaub will enter the heavyweight bout as a decisive favorite, but questions about his legitimacy will follow him into the Octagon this weekend. And his performance will go a long way in either rehabilitating his image or condemning him to gatekeeper status.

    The following are six questions surrounding Brendan Schaub, as he preps for his April showdown with Rothwell.

Can He Take One on the Chin and Live to Tell About It?

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    As a UFC fighter, Schaub has spent his time in the Octagon almost exclusively on his feet. The standup arena is his chosen realm of battle and sticking to it has garnered him four wins and two losses.

    The results have been adequate, but the two losses he has suffered during his UFC tenure send up a red flag. 

    Can his chin hold up against good strikers in the heavyweight division?

    As a striking-oriented fighter, taking one on the button every now and again comes with the territory. But this unavoidable occurrence can be quite troublesome for a fighter with a questionable chin.

    Schaub's loss to Roy Nelson back in 2009 is excusable, as Nelson's right hand is a well-know finisher. But the short punches with which Antonion Rodrigo Nogueira finished him are concerning.

    In 40 career fights, Schaub became just Nogueira's third knockout victim. This may indicate trouble lies ahead.

    Luckily for Schaub, he will not have to answer the question about his chin this weekend.

    Rothwell can hit fairly hard, but he is not regarded a big-time puncher. The immediate concern to Schaub should be whether or not he can stuff Rothwell's takedowns.

    Speaking of which...

Does He Have Adequate Takedown Defense?

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    Schaub has been able to spend nearly all of his time in the UFC standing up in large part because no one has thought to change that for him.

    Gabrieal Gonzaga shot once or twice against Schaub in their 2010 contest, but he did so half-heartedly. Furthermore, Gonzaga is not a particularly strong wrestler and didn't pose a serious test.

    Rothwell, on the other hand, is the best wrestler Schaub will have faced as a UFC fighter. One could argue that Chris Tuchscherer deserves that title, but he was knocked out so fast he had no time to prove it.

    Schaub's takedown defense was something he struggled with on The Ultimate Fighter, and this Saturday, should tell us just how hard he has been training to rectify that.

Is He Too One-Dimensional?

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    In addition to having questionable takedown defense, Schaub's ground game is something we have not seen enough of.

    To be an elite fighter in the world's toughest promotion, one must be well equipped regardless of where the fight takes him.

    As I mentioned in the previous slide, opponents have yet to take Schaub anywhere to date, so as far as we know, his ability to handle a top-notch grappler could rank from exquisitely to horribly and anywhere in between.

    Against Rothwell, Schaub likely won't have to answer questions about his submission defense—Rothwell can submit opponents, but he tends to work the ground-and-pound more than anything else. 

    But, his ability to weather damage from the guard and prevent an opponent from gaining dominant positions may come to light in this fight.

    That could happen, if he is unable to stop Rothwell's takedowns.

Where Exactly Does He Stand in the UFC's Heavyweight Division?

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    This is a question that Schaub will help answer with his performance on Saturday night.

    The answer is largely dependent on the answers to the previous three questions, which will provide suggestions as to how he might fare against the division's upper-echelon.

    The only real issue is that Rothwell is not exactly one of the division's top-dogs, which means that a one-sided boxing match does little to propel Schaub into contention.

    "The Hybrid" cannot prove he belongs in the upper tier of the division by beating Rothwell, but if he shows good takedown defense and/or advanced grappling skills, he will at least have the right to demand the chance to prove that his place is up there.

What Does a Win at UFC 145 Do for Him?

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    As I mentioned in the last slide, a win does not propel Schaub up the ladder at break-neck speed. What it does do is permit him a chance to mix it up with a high-ranked fighter.

    Essentially, this fight is a chance for Schaub to have a chance, and it's kind of like having an opportunity to win a lottery ticket.

    While the reward is limited and a win may not answer all that many questions we have about Schaub, it is much preferable to the alternative.

What Does a Loss at UFC 145 Do for Him?

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    While a win might not answer all that much about "The Hybrid," a loss certainly would.

    If Schaub loses to Rothwell, it will be due to one of three reasons. Either he gets clipped and suffers a knockout loss, he gets repeatedly taken down and loses on points or he gets overwhelmed on the mat and loses by submission, TKO or decision.

    If Schaub loses, showing singular weaknesses along the way, we will know that he is incapable of making a serious run at the title.

    A loss will relegate him to gatekeeper at best. At worst, the loss will come with a pink slip.

    Ultimately, we know what Schaub can do. The questions surrounding him are whether the unexplored areas of his game are weakness or not. While he cannot answer many of those queries in the negative this weekend, any slip up will be convincing enough that he is not a serious threat in the UFC's heavyweight division.

    Sometimes questions are best left unanswered. This is certainly the case for Schaub as he enters his fight with Rothwell this Saturday.