Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will make his first appearance since suffering a gruesome arm injury. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 4-3 UFC) vs. Dave Herman (21-4, 1-2 UFC)
The Matchup: Nobody can question the resilience of Nogueira. Despite logging considerable mileage over the course of a 42-fight career and suffering injuries that might have forced a lesser man to retire, “Minotauro” keeps coming back for more. Most recently, Nogueira had his arm gruesomely snapped by a Frank Mir kimura at UFC 140, a setback that required more rehabilitation than originally anticipated; the Brazilian initially had trouble adjusting to the hardware in his right arm and was forced to pull out of a proposed bout with Cheick Kongo in July.
Prior to the arm injury, Nogueira spent 18 months on the shelf from August 2009 to February 2010 due to multiple surgeries on his hip and knee. At 36 years old, Nogueira is by no means a young man in the mixed martial arts game, but his body is likely much older than that.
Herman might be just the type of opponent to help Nogueira keep his career afloat. A Sengoku, Bellator Fighting Championships and EliteXC veteran, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native has struggled with his transition to the UFC. After debuting with a victory over former Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist John Olav Einemo, Herman has suffered back-to-back knockout losses to Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson. The lack of a sound strategy and questionable conditioning have hampered Herman, as he failed to use his reach to keep Nelson at a safe distance in May and he faded in the second round after a strong start against Struve.
With 15 finishes via knockout or technical knockout to his credit, Herman has displayed solid power, albeit mostly against lesser competition. He also has a penchant for taking risks on the feet, which could pay off handsomely against Nogueira, who has been stopped by strikes in two of his last three defeats. Herman has not exactly displayed sound defense, however, and Nogueira’s boxing will allow him to counter should “Pee Wee” whiff on one of his more exotic offerings. Remember, the Brazilian had Mir reeling on the feet before surrendering his arm in a scramble last December.
Given their recent histories, both men have to like their chances at hurting the other standing. However, Nogueira is the one with the proven track record of absorbing obscene amounts of punishment and surviving. His guard is extremely dangerous and he has a knack for trapping his foes in Hail Mary submissions, even as he appears to be on the verge of unconsciousness.
The Pick: Expect some serious fireworks early with Herman maybe even rocking Nogueira once or twice. Eventually, the bout will find its way to the floor, and that is where the American’s luck will run out, as Nogueira wins via submission late in round one.
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