G’Day mates, let’s talk UFC 110, one of the most exciting fight cards to hit the pay-per-view shelves in quite some time.
There is quite an electric feel surrounding the entire event. Tickets sold out quicker than my prom date dropping her virtues.
Whether it’s the fact that this is the first time a UFC event will be held “Down Under”, or that there are two seasoned living legends competing with young, hungry, next-generation fighters, UFC 110 is captivating at the very least.
One fight that most intrigues this writer is the main event to be contested between Pride and now UFC veteran Antonio Rodrigo Noqueira, and the undefeated and very hungry Cain Velasquez.
When these two beasts grace the cage with their talents, it would be enough to make the late Steve Irwin quiver with fear. Krikeys!
Without a doubt both men have proven their worth in the heavyweight division, one more so than the other due to sheer time spent in the industry as a fighter. But both men have made clear statements that they intend to change the landscape at the top of the UFC heap.
Everyone loves watching the big fellas get to it, and these guys are two prime examples of why. Neither is ever in a boring fight or known for riding out a win, and both are known for a tenacity and aggression that is effective and exciting.
That is a tantalizing recipe for casual and hardcore fans alike.
What we have in Velasquez is a fighter with an impeccable wrestling pedigree, a stout heart, a burning desire to prove his worth, and a seemingly endless tank of fuel that allows him to exact his relentless pace and aggression on his opponents.
Velasquez has been moving up the ladder in very impressive fashion. While some have knocked him for not finishing Cheick Congo, whom he clearly dominated, the fact remains he has ended six other fighters early, most recently destroying Big Ben Rothwell.
Velasquez attacks with a mix of fury and aggression not commonly seen in the heavyweight division. His ability to inject speed and pain into his barrage of superior wrestling and devastating ground and pound has made him look almost unstoppable at times.
To watch his most recent fight with Rothwell, one instantly notices his ability to take the fight where he wants it and keep it there. Basically, what Velasquez says is what goes in his fights, not unlike a fella they call GSP. His dominating ability to control the fight and impose his will is impressive.
What Velasquez has yet to experience in his young MMA career is the feeling of stepping into the cage with a top five HW. He has also never fought with a legend like Big Nog.
What will be very interesting to see is how this young man adapts his game to against a fighter who is more dangerous than any man he has fought so far.
Nogueira, or “Minotauro” as he is known, is no stranger to main events. Pressure is not what dictates a man like Nog. There is no pressure found today that he has not yet endured in his tenure as a perennial top ten HW.
Having held titles in Pride and the UFC, Nog has known pressure that far surpasses what awaits him in Australia this Saturday night.
What he has not had to deal with over the majority of his career are the whispers that many veteran fighters now hear.
Those whispers ask tough questions: Is the end near, is he losing it, is a downward trend on the horizon?
To look into the man’s eyes, without knowing, one might guess his age in the mid 40s. Hell, Randy Couture doesn’t look as old as Big Nog. The fact remains, Minotauro is a spry 33 years of age. Over a decade of absolute war, and being run over by a truck as a youngster, have taken a toll on his body.
Even still, age is just a number, and looks don’t mean a damn thing—just ask Kenny Florian if you have to be pretty to be a successful fighter.
Point here is, for all the questions or doubts that may surround Nog’s career at this point, all of it is hogwash. It’s just analysts trying to get the jump on the inevitable and pretend they were slick enough to call it before it happened.
The truth is Minotauro is as dangerous a HW as one can find, and his reputation precedes him. This is a man who endured one of the most savage beatings anyone will ever see at the hands of a Fedor Emelianenko.
Nog endured a thrashing, attempting multiple submission attempts in a display of grit and gamesmanship.
No one has ever endured that type of massacre and held their wits about them long enough to even think about anything other than rolling over and tapping. Nog was still in the fight trying to catch The Last Emperor slipping.
The point here is, Big Nog is virtually unstoppable on paper, and honestly in person too.
One guy was able to stop him and that was obviously former UFC HW Champ Frank Mir.
Once again, 40 fights and one stoppage against him. Go ahead, put that in your pipe smoke it, and smoke it good, but don’t inhale.
Bas Rutten said it best when he said, “you can kill him, but he will come back from the dead and submit you.”
Nog is so slick, with such an educated killer instinct, and a wealth of experience that can only serve him well. Mr. Velasquez is going to have his hands full. That much is certain.
While neither man is an accomplished pugilist, both men have great chins, and lethal hands when they connect. The vicious striker Kongo was able to land devastating shots on Cain and all it got him for his efforts was being taken down and beaten to a pulp. Nog’s chin is historically sound which goes without saying.
It is on the ground where this fight becomes most intriguing.
Velasquez’s game hinges on getting his opponent down, controlling him there, and executing a strong and relentless style of ground and pound.
Where as for Nog, he is most comfortable in a position that allows him to exercise his elite world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game. Being on his back is not something that makes him uncomfortable by any means, in fact it raises his level of lethality.
So, that is where the true questions are posed.
There is no doubt that this fight will find its way to the mat, and around the cage where both men tend to excel in their own areas. Their individual talents play into the other mans’ strengths, and that should create openings for either man to capitalize.
As these two fighters impose their games on each other will Velasquez be able to keep Nog on his back and avoid repeated attempts on his limbs, as he punishes the legend?
Will Nog be able to endure the onslaught of carnage long enough to snag something on his young opponent and twist or squeeze it?
Then again, maybe this fight will turn out to be an all out war of weapons of mass destruction, leaving it to the judges to sort out. In the end it really does not matter because as a rabid fight fan, this writer is foaming at the mouth for this one.
Here’s to hoping I don’t get ambushed and have a top jaw rope slapped on me.
And we haven’t even talked about Wandy versus the Count yet.
UFC 110 was worth the wait of enduring a line of fight cards that may have proved less than compelling to the casual fan. For all the griping and complaining people have done, the time has finally come to take in a phenomenal fight card.
If MMA fans are a scared little deer kneeling ever so gently at the banks of the river to take a gentle sip of cool murky water, UFC 110 is the mother of all crocs lying just below the surface waiting to lunge and drag the deer to the rivers’ bottom and execute its death roll.
Should be a fun night of fights.
Throw a couple shrimp on the barbie, grab a couple long-necks, and enjoy.