This Saturday Night: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Fabricio Werdum

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This Saturday night on Fuel TV, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7) will attempt to repeat history by taking on Fabricio Werdum (16-5).

At Pride Critical Countdown Absolute (July 2006), Fabricio Werdum stepped into the ring against one of his favorite fighters. In the opening round of the openweight PRIDE grand-prix, Nogueira was just too much for Werdum. The striking and MMA-grappling was in Nogueira’s favor and Werdum just didn’t have the experience Nogueira had then. While Werdum is the better and more accomplished grappler in pure grappling, Nogueira managed to sweep Werdum during the fight. Nogueira was three years removed from being the best heavyweight fighter on the planet. He was still in top form, usually regarded as the number two or three heavyweight on the planet in 2006. In the fight that followed (months later), Nogueira would have what is arguably the best heavyweight MMA fight ever with catch wrestling specialist Josh Barnett.

Now almost seven years later, the two meet again. Nogueira, 37-years-old, is in a tough spot. Internally, he’s probably resembles 57, and he’s been in way too many wars. I think he is one of the most consistently entertaining in-cage/ring fighters in MMA history. But having that role has paid a price. In PRIDE, those fights with Emelianenko, Cro Cop and Sapp were brutal. The arm-break, along with the ill and zombie-looking Nogueira getting TKO’d by Mir is still fresh in my mind. He has defeated Brendan Schaub and Dave Herman in the last three years, but Schaub has a chin that is more fragile than a Peter Hyde accordion — and those things are fragile! Also those are beautiful¬†accordions, unfortunately I can’t say the same thing of Schaub’s chin. Herman on the other hand is a goof and pretty much threw himself into that armbar.

Werdum’s in a good place right now. His striking has gotten a lot better in past years. His muay-thai is as sharp as it’s ever going to get. In 2012, he flat-out destroyed Roy Nelson and Mike Russow. He looked pretty impressive and as much as it pains me to say, I think he’s going to do the same thing to Nogueira tomorrow night.

I’ll be tuning in to see if I’m right. And if I am, ni modo. But if I’m wrong, it could be another great moment in the legendary career of Nogueira.

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