The co-main event of the card features a clash of light heavyweight contenders, as Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira faces off against the undefeated Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan "Darth*" Bader, with the winner moving one step closer to a title shot at 205.
Nogueira (19-3, 2-0 UFC) didn't look overly impressive in his UFC 114 bout with Jason Brilz- a late replacement for Forrest Griffin- but came away with a split decision victory. "Little Nog" is best known for being the twin brother of former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira, as well as for his stint in Pride FC, where he scored victories over Alistair Overeem (twice), Kazushi Sakuraba, and Dan Henderson. Nogueira has shown to be extremely versatile in his victories, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as power in his hands and knees.
Bader (11-0, 4-0 UFC) is a former Arizona State wrestling standout who has transitioned extremely well to MMA. He won the TUF 8 light heavyweight championship by knocking out Vinny Magalhaes with a vicious right hook. Since the show, Bader has gone on to defeat Carmelo Marrero, Eric Schafer, and Keith Jardine. Along with Jon Jones and Phil Davis, Bader looks to lead a new breed of 205 pounders who can stand or take the fight to the ground and work some ground-and-pound.
In another close fight, I'm taking Bader. Nogueira more than likely holds a slight advantage on the feet, especially from a precision standpoint. If Bader can't hold his own or feels threatened on the feet (which is a big 'if', given his power and confidence), he can go back to his wrestling. Nogueira struggled in his fight with Jason Brilz, and Brilz' wrestling isn't nearly the quality of Bader's. What I think truly gives Bader the advantage is his submission defense. Before leaving Arizona Combat Sports, he trained with former middleweight top contender and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Thales Leites. Bader has also defeated a BJJ black belt in Schafer, spending much of the fight inside Schafer's guard, and a world jiu-jitsu champion in Magalhaes, who may be one of the few light heavyweights with a better ground game than Nogueira. Nogueira has been proven tough to finish, but I think Bader takes this fight.
Bader via Decision.
*Alternate nickname for Bader= "The Master"