Saturday night has a long list of great fights lined up, one's that have made the event one of the most anticipated in the UFC’s history. One of the most biggest showdowns of the evening pits rising heavyweight star Brendan Schaub against MMA legend, and Brazilian born, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
This fight takes place in Rio, which is in Nogueira’s home country, so he will have the obvious home-octagon (can we agree on this term to replace home-field?) advantage. But it seems that the younger fighter, Schaub, has the advantage in just about every other aspect of this fight.
Nogueira is returning from surgery on his hip and both knees, so he has not fought in over 18 months. Even though Dana White mentioned several times in his video blog that Big Nog looked in fantastic shape, those are some major red flags. Also, it seems that he has caught a case of “Chuck Liddell-itis” as of late.
In Nog’s long and prestigious career he did not get stopped in his first 36 contests. In his last three, though, two have ended with him staring straight up into the rafters, with a doctor standing over him. I think we can give him a break on the knockout loss to Cain Velasquez, but prior to that he got stopped by Frank Mir, who isn’t exactly known for lighting too many people up.
He might be hitting that point in his career where he just has too many miles on his odometer. Having 40 professional fights wears on your body, his chin seems to have left him high and dry. When that happens, it’s just a matter of time until it’s all over.
Brendan Schaub is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum from Nogueira. Schaub is a young, big strong heavyweight who likes to use his fists in the cage. He is a big guy that has just enough skills to be able to keep this bout standing up—because as you probably know, no matter how old Nogueira is, no one wants to go to the ground with him.
As much as people are looking forward to this contest, it is a terrible match-up for Big Nog. Schaub should take this handily, and I would bet it doesn’t go the distance.
UFC president Dana White has come out and stated that this fight could have title implications. The winner of this will be 'in the mix', whatever that means, in the heavyweight division. It just seems hard for me to imagine seeing Big Nog back 'in the mix' at this point of his career. I just can’t picture it happening.
This bout down in Rio has a much more distinct feel of a swansong, rather than a career rejuvenation. Schaub is riding a four fight win streak, and is beginning to have the looks of another up-and-coming contender in the big boys division.
This fight is going to end a lot like Schaub’s last trip to the octagon against Mirko Crop Cop. Schaub is going to keep this standing, avoiding all of Nog’s take downs, then connect and send Nogueira into Sunday morning.
No one is going to hold it against Nog if he loses this, it should be expected.
At least Nog is getting a chance to perform in front of his home crowd, because, oddly enough, he has not done that yet professionally.
If I were a betting man, which I am, I would take the -225 Schaub is getting and run. Schaub by TKO.