UFC 114 might be a long time from now in MMA terms, but as far as predictions go I do not feel the need to wait that long, nor will I have to travel to Las Vegas to witness it first-hand. I have already made up my mind.
While it has always been Antonio Rodrigo (aka "Minotauro") who has claimed all the accolades and praise of the MMA world in the Nogueira family, in my opinion, some of the beneficence should belong to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, or simply "Lil Nog."
The younger Nogueira has not only been the more stable of the two twin Brazilian brothers, but he's also been the smarter fighter, stylistically speaking, by not depending on his chin as a catcher's mitt over the years.
And—while I know that he will not be the favorite in the desert, mostly because of Forrest Griffin's successfully huge fanbase—I have Lil Nog picked to pull another upset. That is if that would even be a usable term, considering the two fighters' last few previous outings.
For almost his entire career he has sunk under the radar with decent boxing skills and a great Brazilian jiu-jitsu background that is undoubtedly responsible for most of his 18 wins.
Yes, 18-3 is certainly a more-than-decent record for someone so low on the light heavyweight totem pole; if you don't agree, then show me a better one.
Rogerio lost his first match early in his fighting career to Vladimir Matyushenko but then went on to win several big fights, including putting Dan Henderson down via armbar.
Lil Nog lost his next fight to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
This was in a time before Rua had racked up all of his countless injuries and was considered rightfully to be one of the best 205-pound fighters in the world.
Lil Nog and "Shogun" put on what was arguably one of the best rounds in PRIDE history as the first stanza was an all-out war.
Rogerio then became—along with Ricardo Arona, victim to a then-unknown fighter in Sokoudjou, making the barely watchable "Soko" an instant sensation.
I have a feeling that if "Lil Nog" would have known about the African assasin's little cardio issue he might have used a little better game plan, but in MMA terms he just got "caught."
Forrest Griffin is coming off of a win, but not a spectacular one, over an overrated, over-the-hill, and highly predictable Tito Ortiz, and two very disappointing ass-whippings at the hands of Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva.
The latter of the two put the nail in the coffin for me, as I did not appreciate Griffin showing up just to pick up a check and then splitting town without the courtesy of at least an "I'm sorry."
Shame on you, Forrest.
So, after all my babble, this is what it boils down to: Both Lil Nog and Griffin boast a decent stand-up game, and both have shown that they have somewhat of a lion's heart, yet Griffin hasn't shown that in quite sometime.
And while he might be a fan favorite, after watching Nogueira work over Luiz Arthur Cain in impressive fashion, I cannot see Griffin devising a game plan where he finds himself rolling around with Lil Nog. That would be suicide.
Griffin's punching power and predictable offense is now definably fading, and it's not likely to test the chin of Rogerio.
Lil Nog has a far better beard, and it is without a doubt much fresher than big brother's, so no knockout here for Griffin, I'm afraid.
On to the ground we will go, then, where, even if Griffin gets the majority of the takedowns, I see Lil Nog reversing him easily—and probably for a late submission victory or a UD (unanimous decision).
My opinion and prediction?
...Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by rear-naked choke mid-third round, thank you.