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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Fabricio Werdum Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2012

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Fabricio Werdum Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    The second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil will see a pair of elite heavyweights take to the coaching positions. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum will coach their respective teams and meet inside the Octagon at season's end.

    Werdum could be on the brink of challenging for the UFC heavyweight championship, while Nogueira will try to put himself back in the top five with a victory.

    This will be a rematch of their 2006 meeting at PRIDE Critical Countdown Absolute. Nogueira won a unanimous decision on that night.

    Who has the advantage this time around? Let's take a look at the head-to-toe breakdown.

Striking

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    Over the past several fights, we have seen a dramatic improvement in the standup game of both men. However, Werdum's attack is more varied and more fluid.

    Nogueira prefers to primarily box, but he is slow and plodding with his footwork. That worked in their first meeting, and Nogueira was even able to drop Werdum once.

    However, Werdum has shown his striking abilities in his last two outings. He brutalized Roy Nelson en route to a decision victory, and decimated Mike Russow on the feet.

    The edge is decidedly in Werdum's favor.

    Edge: Werdum

Grappling

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    This category was extremely tough to call. Nogueira and Werdum are incredible grapplers in their own right. Therefore, one of the best ways to break this down was to go back to their 2006 meeting in PRIDE.

    In that fight, Nogueira largely dominated the grappling through the first two rounds. He was able to take Werdum down, reversed a takedown attempt from Werdum and swept Werdum multiple times when he was down. It was only late in the fight when Werdum started to win the grappling exchanges.

    However, it's not 2006 anymore.

    How much has Werdum's grappling improved since then? How much has Nogueira regressed? I am not certain that Nogueira is athletic enough to do what he did in PRIDE, but I don't think Werdum has improved greatly since then, either.

    I think this could come down to what kind of shape Nogueira is in when they meet. Werdum simply has not improved his grappling enough to make me give him the outright edge, but it would not shock me if he uses his athleticism to win the exchanges.

    Based on technical ability alone, I would have to give a microscopic advantage to Nogueira.

    Edge: Nogueira

Submissions

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    This is another close category between the two heavyweights.

    Nogueira will enter the fight with 21 submission victories in his storied career, while Werdum has a host of credentials himself.

    I questioned Nogueira's athletic ability in the grappling department, and I'll continue to do that.

    I believe it will be much easier for Werdum to defend any submission attempts in this fight, and it will be harder for Nogueira to do the same should Werdum go for the tap.

    Technically, both of these men are top notch. They could run into a stalemate.

    With Werdum's size and strength advantage, I'll give him the slight nod. It will make securing the submission more easy, and allow him to finish.

    Edge: Werdum

X-Factors

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    Nogueira's X-Factor: What shape will he be in?

    If you go back and watch the 2006 meeting between Nogueira and Werdum, you will be able to notice the heavyweight was in much better shape back then.

    The years and a number of brutal fights have definitely taken their toll on Nogueira.

    The fight with Werdum is a long way off. Therefore, if he can get in great shape, he has a chance of replicating his 2006 success.

    He needs to be more mobile and be able to withstand Werdum's size and pressure for 15 minutes.

     

    Werdum's X-Factor: Striking

    Werdum lost both the striking and grappling exchanges in their first meeting, but his striking has since then improved by leaps and bounds.

    If he is able to keep this as a standup fight, the odds will tip dramatically in his favor. It is unlikely that Nogueira will out-strike him this go around, and he should take full advantage of that fact,

Prediction

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    Ultimately, this fight comes down to two questions.

    How much has Werdum improved, and what kind of shape will Nogueira be in when he enters the Octagon?

    I believe Werdum has improved dramatically on his feet, and the wars that Nogueira has endured have taken an equally dramatic toll on his body.

    That all points to a Werdum victory.

    With that said, I do not expect the fight to be easy for Werdum. It will take him all three rounds and it will go to the judge's scorecards. However, he will have his hand raised.

    Werdum will keep the fight largely on its feet, and that is where he will accumulate the points needed to defeat Nogueira. Should the fight hit the mat, he will not be swept like he was in their first meeting.

    I look for a clean sweep, 30-27.

    Prediction: Werdum defeats Nogueira by unanimous decision

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