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Velasquez Meets Nogueira in Sydney

Preview by Brady Crytzer

In the UFC first appearance down under in Sydney, Australia, up and coming heavyweight Cain Velasquez hopes to make his first run at a world title when he faces future hall of famer Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira.

Fresh off of a 2009 victory over Randy Couture, Nogueira wants to prove that he is still a force in the division and is one fight away from a shot at the belt. With a number of factors to consider, this fight could be the most intriguing heavyweight bout in years. Leave it to Fightnews to sort out the details and prepare you for UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velasquez.

Striking: The second you stop improving your game is the second you should consider retiring from mixed martial arts. The main event of UFC 110 allows fans to witness two separate pictures of perennial improve. Velasquez, a work in progress, possesses natural punching power and an athletic capacity to harness it correctly. As a finished product in comparison, Nogueira was a pioneer of world class cross training as he revamped his stand up arsenal by training with the vaunted Cuban National Boxing Team in 2004. The results speak for themselves. “Minotauro” has an edge in crispness and experience while Velasquez possesses the quicker, more damaging blows. Nogueira utilized his polished timing and sharp technique to batter Randy Couture at UFC 103 and he will use it once again score points on Saturday night.

“Minotauro” is the better boxer and will be able to score points on the feet. Look for Velasquez to land the more telling blows as he is faster and carries much bigger power. If the former world champion Nogueira can avoid the big bombs of his younger opponent, he will control the stand up portion of this heavyweight showdown.

Grappling: Finally a grappling superfight that is guaranteed to pan out. Although most contests between high level grapplers usually stay on the feet, Nogueira’s willingness to work from his back and Velasquez relentless takedowns ensure a mat battle (*see Underground) on Saturday night. While “Minotauro” has left a lasting legacy as the greatest heavyweight jiu jitsu artist of all time, Velasquez is just carving out his niche as one of the division’s true powerhouse wrestlers. Nogueira doesn’t mind working from the guard, and with Velasquez’s strength advantage you can rest assured that he’ll be there, but don’t believe for a second that this will be your typical wrestler vs. BJJ black belt. The intangibles make all the difference, and they don’t favor Nogueira.

“Minotauro” can submit the youngster, but watch for Velasquez’s piston-like punches from the top position take over this fight. Nogueira’s reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and he will have a small window to lock on a submission in any round.

Velasquez is a cardio machine and he is never stationary, watch for the high intensity AKA product to batter the aging veteran with jackhammers and negate the submission arsenal of Nogueira.

How They Match Up: This fight is youth vs. experience, wrestling vs. jiu jitsu, and age before beauty.

There are problems for each man in every aspect of this fight. While Velasquez hits harder, we have seen weakness in his chin which doesn’t bode well considering the refined boxing of Nogueira.

While his submissions are world class, “Minotauro” has shown serious signs of wear-and-tear, particularly in his once legendary reflexes. He may have been able to submit Velasquez with ease…eight years ago.

This fight is guaranteed to go to the ground and that’s where the real battle begins. Velasquez will push the pace in this fight and Nogueira will be unable to keep up. In a familiar scenario, the story of this fight will once again be “Minotauro’s” ability to absorb punishment, but there won’t be a happy ending for the future hall of famer.

Velasquez will pound Nogueira for all three rounds of this heavyweight showdown. While the analyst in me doesn’t see “Minotauro” surviving the ground n’ pound onslaught, my nostalgic side wouldn’t mind seeing Nogueira survive the barrage.

Of his own volition or not, “Minotauro” will see his opponent’s hand raised at the end of this fight. Unfortunately for fans of the old Pride FC it’s not 2003 anymore, Velasquez by third round TKO.


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