Former UFC interim and Pride heavyweight world champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira returns to action in Brazil for the first time in a year and a half. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub was officially added to the UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami card today.
[adinserter block=”1″]The UFC continues to stack Brazilian legends on the UFC 134 card making Rio one of the biggest MMA homecomings in recent memory. This fight pits one of the greatest BJJ fighters of all time against an up and coming heavyweight. The fight also ends rumors of a Nogueira vs. Mirko Cro Cop fight that would have given the hometown fans one of a rematch of one of the biggest fights in Pride Fighting history.
Nogueira entered the UFC with a lot of hype after Zuffa LLC purchased Pride FC and Nogueira’s contract. The first ever Pride heavyweight champion was brought into the UFC with championship aspirations by Dana White and Zuffa. Unfortunately in MMA some fighters look better on paper than they do once they enter the octagon. Nogueira has gone a disappointing 2-3 since entering the UFC at UFC 73 in 2007.
Nogueira certainly hasn’t been a total bust like his brother. Even with the two losses, Nogueira has won Fight of the Night twice for exciting fights against former UFC heavyweight champions Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia. If not for suffering a major illness shortly before fighting Frank Mir, it is arguable that Nogueira would have wound up beating Mir and fighting Brock Lesnar for the UFC title in a match that would have highly favored the grizzled veteran.
Brendan Schaub has taken a much different road to get to his UFC 134 fight against Nogueira. Schaub was a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, losing to Roy Nelson via knockout in the finals. The former NFL and AFL player has since rolled off four straight wins in the UFC, three by knockout or TKO. His last win over veteran Mirko Cro Cop was an impressive third round knockout win, giving Schaub the biggest win of his young career.
[adinserter block=”1″]Nogueira will be a huge jump in competition for Schaub as opposed to anyone he has fought thus far in his MMA career. Fighting in Nogueira in Nogueira’s home country could be extremely intimidating for someone of Schaub’s experience. Nogueira has been such a mixed bag due to injuries that you really have no idea which Big Nog is going to show up. This will be Nogueira’s first fight since undergoing major knee and hip surgery. A loss here could possibly put the great MMA career of Nogueira in jeopardy.
Schaub certainly has a puncher’s chance in the fight. Anyone with half of a brain would agree that Schaub needs to do whatever he can to keep this fight off of the ground. Nogueira was a great stand up fighter in his prime but it has been a long time since he has been tested by someone as young and fast as Schaub. If Schaub can keep his nerves calm and overcome the excitement of the event, he could pull off a big upset here.
A win here for either fighter should theoretically puts him into the championship mix and likely on a collision course with the Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson or the Stefan Struve vs. Travis Browne winner or even the Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin loser in the near future.
Nogueira will be joined by Brazilian MMA greats Anderson Silva and Mauricio Shogun Rua on UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami.
The confirmed UFC 134: RIO card…
Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Forrest Griffin vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub
Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Spencer Fisher vs. Thiago Tavares
Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira vs. Rousimar Palhares