In just a few hours, Tito Ortiz and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will face off in a bout that is a must-win scenario for both parties.
Ortiz has been trying for some time now to get his career back on track and took a step in the right direction when he defeated Ryan Bader by guillotine choke back at UFC 132.
Unfortunately, Ortiz took a short-notice fight with Rashad Evans, which he lost by second-round TKO, derailing the momentum from his win over Bader.
Now Ortiz sits at 1-5-1 in his last seven fights and is at serious risk of being cut by the UFC if he loses tonight.
Nogueira's situation is not as dire as Ortiz's, but he is coming off back-to-back losses to Phil Davis and Bader and also looked unimpressive in earning a split decision over Jason Brilz before that.
There's a lot on the line for both these competitors, but only one man can walk out of the cage a victor.
On paper, this fight looks like a good matchup for Ortiz, as Nogueira has struggled with wrestlers in his past few fights and Ortiz is known as a takedown, ground-and-pound fighter.
However, the wrestlers that Nogueira has been having difficulty with have been younger and faster than Ortiz, as well as more accomplished in amateur wrestling.
If the fight does hit the mat, Ortiz will likely have the advantage.
Nogueira is crafty off his back, but Ortiz has not been submitted since before the millennium and is one of the best at maintaining top position, staying out of danger and doing damage.
On the feet, Nogueira should have a clear-cut advantage.
Ortiz has never been known as a striker and usually does not do well in fights that stay standing.
Nogueira, on the other hand, is very comfortable exchanging on the feet. He has excellent, technical boxing and good power in his hands.
I see this fight playing out a lot like Ortiz's second fight with Forrest Griffin.
Ortiz will get outworked and busted up when the fight is standing, but he'll keep it competitive by snagging the occasional takedown.
This should be a close fight, but Nogueira will take the decision by doing more damage and stuffing most of Ortiz's takedown attempts.
Final Prediction: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira defeats Tito Ortiz via unanimous decision.
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