Pros Pick: Nogueira vs. Velasquez


by Mike Sloan [February 19, 2010] --

The land of koala bears, kangaroos and deadly funnel web spiders can add two more dangerous predators to its list: the submission prowess of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and the dominant wrestling of Cain Velasquez. The two heavyweights will clash in a quasi crossroads fight in the UFC 110 main event this Saturday at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.

In a classic matchup between skilled wrestler and submission savant, Nogueira-Velasquez carries with it major heavyweight title implications. recently caught up with dozens of professional fighters and trainers to gauge how they think the UFC 110 main event will unfold.

Pat Miletich: The matchup between Cain Velasquez and Rodrigo Nogueira should be an entertaining fight. Rodrigo is always tough and seems to have improved after losing to [Frank] Mir. I also think Pride took a lot out of the guys that had a lot of fights for that organization. The fights Nogueira competed in for the Pride organization were many times complete wars, and that can have an effect on a fighter later in their career. Velasquez is much younger and is very hungry. He looked impressive against [Ben] Rothwell, and I believe he has an edge on Nogueira in this fight. His speed and wrestling ability should wear Nogueira out, and I look for a unanimous decision going Velasquez’s way.

Stephane Vigneault: Think Nogueira will have the edge on this one because of his jiu-jitsu and his striking, and I don’t think Velasquez has a [good] jaw. I see Nogueira winning by submission in round three and coming back for a title shot very soon.

Vitor Ribeiro: Minotauro wins due to his efficiency on the ground and having more accurate boxing.

Gabe Ruediger: Interesting fight. I’m a big fan of Nogueira, and he has no stop in him. It saddens me to write this, but I see Cain being able to take him to a decision. I think Nog always has the ability to come back and win and maybe pull off a sub, but with three rounds to work, I just don’t see it.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: Big Nog is one of my all time favorites for his heart, toughness and amazing transition of BJJ to MMA. I can’t think of a time I ever rooted against him. As much as I want him to win this fight, I just think, at this point in his career, he won’t be able to keep up with Cain. This fight will likely serve as a changing of the guard. It pains me to say it, but Cain wins by unanimous decision.

Carlos Barreto: Very tough fight; hard to make a prediction. We know that Minotauro is very focused for this fight, which is important to his race back to the top. It will be a struggle decided in the details, so I think Minotauro will win because he has more experience. Against as strong an athlete as Velasquez, intelligence and experience are determining factors. Minotauro by submission in the third round.

Dan Evensen: Big Nog wins by TKO.

Benji Radach: Cain by relentless cardio ass kicking. I’m not sure of too many guys that can keep his pace. I don’t see that many guys beating him at all. I know that Nogueira can possibly catch him with his slick jiu-jitsu and also has looked great in his last fights standing up. I just think Cain has the youth and skill to charge through with unstoppable pressure.

Gustavo Machado: This fight will be very hard for Velasquez, because Minotauro is a very experienced fighter and is very focused on regaining the belt. I think Minotauro wins by submission.

Hermes Franca: Minotauro by submission.

Ricardo Liborio: Minotauro by submission -- second round.

Jason Dent: Well, I want Nog to win, as he is one of my top five all-time heavyweight fighters. Nog has great submissions and good boxing, as well. However, if I were putting money on the fight, I would have to say Cain is going to win this fight via unanimous decision. I see Cain just staying real busy with his takedowns and ground-and-pound. Nobody has been able to deal with him so far, and his conditioning keeps getting better. I will be really surprised if Cain is able to finish Nogueira off, that’s for sure.

Ray Elbe: Nogueira is such a legend; I hate picking against him. I’m making the trip to Australia and, while watching this fight, will be cheering for him the entire time. But he’s had more lumps than my mom’s homemade mashed potatoes, and Cain Velasquez is the future of the division. This fight will play out on the feet, with Velasquez avoiding the takedowns and outworking Nogueira to a TKO victory. It will be another impressive performance by an American Kickboxing Academy fighter.

Stav Economou: I don’t know. I really have no idea who is going to win, but it’s going to be an awesome fight and is going to answer a lot of questions about both fighters.

Pedro Rizzo: It will be a very tough fight, but I think Minotauro submits him in the third round.

Tom Gavrilos: Big Nog all the way. Even if Cain keeps getting takedown after takedown, he is going to be in danger every time. I don’t see him being able to pass Big Nog’s guard easily, or maybe at all. And if Fedor [Emelianenko] couldn’t pound him out from inside the guard, then how will Cain? Big Nog is going to pick him apart on their feet, and if Cain isn’t careful, he is going to be finished by submission.

Nick Thompson: Derrick Noble and I discussed this over the Valentine’s dinner we were eating with one another. Derrick says he wants to be smothered into Cain’s sweat-glistened chest, and there is no way Nog can handle Cain’s manliness. How can I argue with that?

Wallid Ismail: Minotauro is a legend of the sport and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I bet on his victory.

Jason Lambert: This is a very tough fight. I am going with Nog. I helped him get ready for Randy [Couture], so I would like to see him do well.

Frank Shamrock: I like Nogueira in this fight. He looked sharp and strong in his last one. Cain [has] amazing wrestling and conditioning, but I take Nog.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Velasquez is not a striker or submission guy, but he’s a very tactical fighter. Rodrigo is more experienced, is a more complete fighter and has a better ground game and better boxing. He will have to use much of his experience in the fight, and I think that wins it.

Thiago Goncalves: I believe that it will be very busy fight; they are two fighters who have a lot of gas and always keep moving. I know Minotauro is well-prepared for this fight and believe in his victory by submission in the third round or by decision.

Micah Miller: I think Nogueira has one more run to the top of the mountain. I don’t know how, but I think Big Nog will find a way.

Rafael Cavalcante: Rodrigo is very well-prepared. I enjoyed his evolution in training. I am very happy with it, and I think he wins by submission.

Bibiano Fernandes: I think Minotauro wins. He is very good. I have much respect for him because he fights with the heart of a champion.

Pros who picked Nogueira: 17
Pros who picked Velasquez: 7
Pros who could not decide: 1


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