Few things kick more ass than talking about a fight that kicks off the main card of a stacked event.
I say that with a smile, and especially hold it true now, because last night's UFC 120 is in the books and we're six days away from UFC 121 in Anaheim.
Kicking off the card that'll see Brock Lesnar defend his UFC Heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez is a Heavyweight bout between Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga and Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub.
Now, I know that Gonzaga has some good stand-up that includes some lethal kicks and some heavy hands...and if you don't believe Gonzaga can kick, ask Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.
When Gonzaga can't stand with someone, he always goes to his bread-and-butter,$$ which is his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
In his career, Gonzaga has beaten the majority of his opponents by submitting them, and in one case he actually caused someone to submit due to exhaustion, so Gonzaga is always ready to go.
The one key thing about Gonzaga that everyone including Schaub must keep in mind, though, is that he hasn't been able to maintain a consistent win-loss record in the UFC since he beat Cro Cop at UFC 70.
He's beaten young up-and-comers since the loss to Randy Couture, but he's been unable to keep a steady game plan going against the surefire contenders in the UFC Heavyweight division.
I say in that case: Advantage, Schaub.
Let's face it, a loss to Roy Nelson doesn't make you a gatekeeper right off the bat.
You have to lose against contenders and beat the young up-and-comers in order to be considered a gatekeeper, and I don't think Schaub is at that point in his career yet.
He realizes that a win over Gonzaga is bigger for his career than most people would like to admit, and he'll use this as motivation to beat Gonzaga any way he can.
Seeing as how Schaub tends to finish in the first round, he should take notes from Junior Dos Santos and try to put the pressure on Gonzaga as early as possible, but also he should create the distance with his shots.
If Gonzaga throws a shot to the dome, Schaub should watch his timing when he counters.
If he throws too late, Gonzaga can easily rock Schaub and follow through with some fast lefts and rights.
If Schaub throws too many shots too early, Gonzaga may not finish him early, but he can find a way to take the fight past the first round...an area where we've seen Shane Carwin and Rashad Evans before, but never have we seen Schaub go that far.
He has to be patient and look for his opening to strike if he wants to keep Gonzaga standing.
If the fight has to go to the ground, Schaub can take it there by taking Gonzaga down, but he better be careful to not be methodical on the ground because Gonzaga may get comfortable on the ground.
If the fight goes to the ground and Schaub is the one taking Gonzaga there, he'll have to stay active and be careful to not be in Gonzaga's guard.
The last place you want to be with a BJJ practitioner is in someone's full guard, so Schaub needs to use his wrestling to the fullest extent to get past the Guard of "Napao."
If a shot lands clean on the chin or the jaw of Gonzaga, or if he mounts Gonzaga and rains down on him, The Hybrid may be able to score the biggest win of his career so far.
Don't believe the hype behind "The Hybrid"? You can read a more Pro-Gonzaga take here.
Dale De Souza is a Man on Fire—or as the regulars of MMA writing call it, a “Correspondent”—for Bleacher Report MMA, as well as a contributor to Sprawl-N-Brawl MMA, RealSportsNet, Sports Haze and Hit The Ropes MMA.
Also be sure to check out more of him on the official Agree To Disagree Facebook Page.
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