UFC 134 Preview: Is Big Nog Walking into an Ambush vs. Brendan Schaub?

Josuee HernandezContributor IIIAugust 18, 2011

UFC 134 Preview: Is Big Nog Walking into an Ambush vs. Brendan Schaub?

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    At UFC 134 Rio, Mixed Martial Arts legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira will be competing for the first time since his loss to Cain Velasquez in February 2010.

    And he may be getting used as a stepping stone for rising prospect Brendan Schaub.

    Nogueira is undoubtedly one of the best, most successful fighters of the last decade. His list of accolades include having won the Pride Heavyweight belt (twice), as well as becoming the interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.

    Despite being one of the most accomplished heavyweights in the history of the sport, it seems that time is finally catching up with Big Nog. During the defense of his interim UFC Heavyweight Championship back in late 2008, he was finished by Frank Mir. This marked the first time he had ever been stopped in his career.

    He rebounded with a convincing win over fellow legend Randy Couture, but was once again finished by the now current champion Cain Velasquez.

    At age 35 and with 40 professional fights to his name, we might have already seen the best years of Nogueira’s career.

UFC 134 Preview: Is Big Nog Walking into an Ambush vs. Brendan Schaub?

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    Which brings us to his upcoming opponent: Brendan Schaub. Schaub was a runner-up in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, where he was brutally knocked out by Roy Nelson. Since that defeat (the only one in his career), Schaub has won four straight, knocking out three of those four opponents.

    This all begs a very serious question: Why is a fighter who has won four-straight fights competing against another who has lost two of his last three, by knockout no less?

    This all has one very simple answer: because Brendan Schaub is being groomed as the next big thing in the UFC heavyweight division, with a win over Big Nog only adding to his resume.

    Don‘t believe me? Let’s take a moment to examine how Schaub’s record has been inflated with hand-picked fights from the UFC matchmakers.

UFC 134 Preview: Is Big Nog Walking into an Ambush vs. Brendan Schaub?

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    In his first fight after getting knocked out by Roy Nelson, Schaub fought Chase Gormley, who was coming off a loss. After defeating Gormley in 47 seconds, Gormley was cut from the UFC.

    After that, Schaub was fed Chris Tuchscherer, who was 1-1 in the UFC. Tuchscherer was TKO’d in 67 seconds, and has since been released from the organization.

    Schaub then faced Gabriel Gonzaga, who was coming off a loss. Schaub won by decision and Gonzaga was released from the UFC.

    Lastly, Schaub fought Mirko Filipovic at UFC 128. As you might have guessed, Cro Cop was coming off a loss. Schaub was expected to make short work of the aging legend, and while he did win by knockout, he had more than his hands full in the bout.

    Cro Cop is the only fighter he’s defeated that is still with the UFC.

UFC 134 Preview: Is Big Nog Walking into an Ambush vs. Brendan Schaub?

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    Schaub should be fighting guys whose recent records are similar to his. People like Mike Russow and Dave Herman (both are on strong win streaks). Instead, Dana White and the rest of the UFC brass have handpicked another aging legend to bolster Schaub’s resume.

    The situation looks dire for Nogueira. As the headline states, he is walking into an ambush, and there’s a hungry up-and-comer gunning for his name. On paper, this looks to be a dangerous matchup for him.

    Does the MMA legend still have what it takes to compete against the new generation of heavyweights? I certainly think so, but don't take my word for it. Historically, Nogueira is at his best when the tables are turned on him, so here's hoping that he can pull out one more big win in his career.