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Velasquez vs. Nogueira Headlines UFC 110 – SportsUntapped.com
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Added February 18th, 2010 by David Glisan

Velasquez vs. Nogueira Headlines UFC 110
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After a string of dismal PPV main events, the UFC will hope to get their buyrates out of the toilet with a compelling heavyweight contender matchup to headline the promotion’s first trip to Australia.  UFC 110 will feature a battle between former PRIDE and UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and a fighter many consider the future of the heavyweight division, Cain Velasquez.

27 year old Cain Velasquez was an exceptional collegiate wrestler before making the transition to MMA.  Velasquez started to make a name for himself early, and quickly gained a reputation as *the* badass of the gym at the American Kickboxing Academy.  With a fighter roster than includes Jon Fitch, Christian Wellisch, Josh Koscheck, Cung Le and Josh Thompson that’s saying something.  He overwhelmed his first five opponents with only one making it out of the first round.  He took a unanimous decision victory from Cheick Kongo and most recently scored an impressive second round TKO win over tough Ben Rothwell.

The rap on Velasquez is a questionable chin–his first five opponents never got the chance to test it but Kongo knocked him down several times in their fight only to have Velasquez recover and dominate the rest of the way.  Velasquez claims that it was due to being overly aggressive and not paying attention to his defense, and to his credit showed a much better punching defense against a heavy hitter in Ben Rothwell.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira represents a huge step up in class.  “Minotauro” looked awful in losing to Frank Mir at UFC 92 however that was due to a staph infection he suffered during training.  He was back to his old self as he easily beat Randy Couture at UFC 102.  Aside from the loss to Mir, ‘Big Nog’ has never been stopped inside the distance despite a resume that consists of the best of the best.  His only other losses are an early career split decision setback to Dan Henderson in a RINGS event in Japan, a split decision loss to Josh Barnett and two decision losses to Fedor Emelianenko.

The winner of this fight could end up being the first challenger to UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar upon his return to action.  The current plan is for Lesnar to return in May, hopefully to fight the winner of the Shane Carwin/Frank Mir bout at UFC 111.  That’s a real quick turnaround from that fight, however, and unless the winner emerges relatively unscathed physically the UFC will have to resort to a ‘plan B’ for Lesnar’s first opponent which will most likely be the Velasquez/Nogueira winner.

It’s one of those fights that literally could go either way.  Personally, the most likely scenarios are a Velasquez decision victory after controlling the fight on the ground or a Nogueira submission victory.  You have to respect Velasquez’s power, but you have to respect ‘Big Nog’s’ toughness and the level of competition he’s faced.  Not surprisingly, the fight is essentially a pick’em at most sportsbooks.  Bookmaker, for example, has Velasquez a -117 favorite with Nogueira priced at -113.

It’ll also be an interesting test to see how the PPV buyrate responds to a decent main event.  Unfortunately, the rest of the card is more along the lines of the usual drivel that the UFC has been offering of late.  Michael Bisping, who looked all but retired by Dan Henderson, will face yet another ‘old timer’ in Wanderlei Silva.  Joe Stevenson will face Aussie George Sotiropoulos, while another fighter who looks to be past his prime in Keith Jardine will take on up-and-comer Ryan Bader.  Jardine has lost 3 of his last 4 and 4 of his last 6 fights, while Bader is undefeated at 10-0.  The opening fight of the PPV will be–you guessed it–another long in the tooth competitor in Mirko Cro Cop taking on Ben Rothwell.  Cro Cop was the most feared striker in the sport as recently as 2006 but his career has nose dived since.  He’s retired and unretired more often than Brett Favre, and its really hard to figure why he’s still fighting.  He’s very popular in Australia and if he can’t beat the tough but limited Rothwell he definitely should hang it up.

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