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Win or lose at UFC 153, one can’t help but have the creeping thought that Nogueira might leave the Octagon for the final time after his bout with Herman.
A win would see him cement a 2-0 record on his home turf in the UFC, and would mean that he would have absolutely nothing left to prove in MMA. He’s been a champion, an entertainer and a great ambassador for the sport. Leaving the game at 34-7-1 is nothing to cry about.
Meanwhile, a loss would likely prove that he’s done as a true contender. Herman is a fringe top-10 guy and someone that, by rights, wouldn’t be fit to hold Nogueira’s jock in 2005.
Despite being only seconds away from an official career rejuvenation against Mir at UFC 140, losing in Rio would put him at 2-4 in his last six fights with wins against an aging and undersized Randy Couture and the largely useless Brendan Schaub.
Nogueira has earned the right to choose how much longer he goes on, and how he leaves the sport when he decides it’s time to. However, there has to be that little piece of every fan wondering if it’s going to happen on Saturday night.