UFC 153: 5 Fights for Antonio Minotauro Nogueira to Take Next

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

UFC 153: 5 Fights for Antonio Minotauro Nogueira to Take Next

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    Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira continues to amaze.

    In front of his home crowd in Rio at UFC 153, Nogueira yet again displayed world-class heart, dedication and the ability to overcome a career-threatening injury.

    His second-round submission of Dave Herman not only proved "Big Nog" is back at full health, but it proved that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can work against any fighter, despite how much they may disagree.

    However, the victory sort of leaves Nogueira in limbo.  He's not quite a championship caliber fighter at this point in his career, but he's no stepping stone either.

    As fuzzy as his future is in the UFC, here are five fights the legend should take on next.

Gabriel Gonzaga

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    A potential fight between Minotauro Nogueira and Gabriel Gonzaga would be extremely entertaining.

    It could even take place the next time the UFC hosts an event in Brazil.  Early 2013 has been a potential date.

    In any case, the two heavyweights could very well produce one of the best fights of the year.

    On the back of heavy hands, crisp boxing and some of the best jiu-jitsu on the planet, the skills between Nogueira and Gonzaga would culminate into an all-out war.

Ben Rothwell

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    This may not be the biggest fight for Minotauro Nogueira to take, but Ben Rothwell is one tough dude.

    The two share first-round knockout victories over Brendan Schaub and are consequently positioned alongside one another on the divisional ladder.

    Rothwell has only been submitted once in his career so it'd be interesting to see him roll with "Big Nog."

    Nogueira's punching power isn't quite as dangerous as Rothwell's, but the Brazilian possesses a slight speed advantage that could allow him to get in and out of strikes before he clinched.

Stefan Struve

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    Stefan Struve has officially made the jump into the heavyweight division's top group of fighters.

    He may be two or three fights away from a title shot, but as long as he keeps finishing fights, the UFC will give him the best opportunities available.

    One of those opportunities could very well come against Minotauro Nogueira.

    Nogueira would be the biggest name Struve has fought to date, and with a victory over a legend of the sport, "Skyscraper" would be that much closer to a No. 1 contender's bout.

    As two of the best submission experts in the weight class, as well as possessing the ability to inflict serious damage on their feet, Nogueira and Struve would struggle to go the distance.

Antonio "Big Foot" Silva

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    This would be a huge fight.

    Antonio Silva is coming off his most impressive victory in years after dismantling top heavyweight prospect Travis Browne by first-round TKO at UFC on FX 5.

    The UFC should be willing to play his hot hand and pin him up against a fighter that can produce a lot of hype, ratings and revenue.

    Minotauro Nogueira is a perfect candidate.

    It may be tough for Nogueira to deal with Silva's size and power, but he's handled himself before against bigger opponents such as Tim Sylvia, so it may not be a problem.

    Regardless, the two heavyweights are now on a collision course after producing individually impressive victories within a division that considerably drops off outside of the top 10.

Fabricio Werdum

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    Many people have been asking for this fight and for good reason.

    The last time Minotauro Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum battled in Pride in 2006, it produced an awesome display of talent.

    Their rematch, which would consist of a whole lot of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, could take place sometime next year in an effort to build Werdum's championship potential.

    Nogueira could very well defeat his fellow Brazilian, but with consecutive victories over Mike Russow and Roy Nelson, Werdum has a little more going for him.

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