Big Nog put down a very game Randy Couture at UFC 102 and immediately stated that a UFC title shot was what he was aiming for.
He looked to be in great shape at the weigh-ins and proved that he is, without a doubt, back in prime form. His boxing was crisp, his Jiu-Jitsu was solid (even though Couture fought out of all of the attempts) and his chin was still as strong as ever.
Basically, he showed all of the doubters that the Mir fight really was just a fluke. I don't want to make excuses for him, but he should not have been in that fight in the shape he was in.
Mir was lucky to get an out of shape, tired and staph-infected Nogueira that night. If Nog had not been extremely ill before that fight, Mir would have never made it to Lesnar. Not even close.
Don't get me wrong. In a way, I'm glad Mir won. I'm no fan of his and I was glad to see his ego get pounded a little bit at UFC 100. But an in shape Nog would have won that fight and would have fought Lesnar.
That's why this fight is so interesting to me. We get to see the match that should have happened: Nog vs. Lesnar for the title.
This is, of course, assuming that Lesnar doesn't get his face pimp slapped by Shane Carwin and still has the title come 2010.
I like Lesnar and Carwin, so giving a prediction for this fight will be tough for me. Lesnar will be slightly bigger and I think he may have the edge in the wrestling department, but Shane has better stand-up and his ground game is going to be the best that Lesnar has faced in his short MMA career.
Lesnar's chin has never been truly tested by anyone. I believe the UFC is taking a big risk throwing Lesnar in there with Carwin. I think that champions should fight the best guys and Carwin is the best contender they have right now.
But if Lesnar loses this match (especially if he gets knocked out in devastating fashion), then the UFC is going to hurt one of their biggest stars, which could easily put a dent in their ever-increasing wallet.
It's a risky decision on their part, but I applaud them for it. It shows that they're not coddling Lesnar and are trying to give the fans of the sport the best matches they can.
However, if Lesnar does win, I think the only legitimate threat to his title after Carwin will be Nog. There is no one else out there that will be able to beat him right now. He's simply too large and too strong for most of the division.
Of course, this match also assumes that Nog beats at least one more pretty big name. While I'm convinced that Nog is back in top form, some people may need one more solid win to completely erase the memory of the Mir loss.
A good opponent (as far as making money is concerned) would be CroCop. As we all know, he's been on a bit of a downward slope in the past few years. But casual fans still love him. His name is known. He still gets cheered like crazy when he steps into the Octagon.
If CroCop beats Dos Santos convincingly at 103, I can definitely see a classic Pride bout getting put into the Octagon. Fans would eat it up and it would put some butts in the seats. Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing it myself.
If that doesn't happen, I can see the UFC putting the winner of Velasquez/Rothwell up against Nog. Sounds a little crazy, but the UFC heavyweight division isn't exactly stacked and they need to make matchups with what they have.
A Mir rematch could also be intriguing if he beats Cheick Kongo at UFC 107. Or if Kongo wins, throw him in there with Nog and give Nog an easy win.
Whatever the UFC decides as far as future matchups go, I would love to see this fight. The takedown power and pure strength of Lesnar vs. the durability and submission credentials of one of the all time greats of MMA, Antonio Noguiera.
How can you not want to watch that?