The Ultimate Fighting Championship keeps the machine churning in wake of UFC 205, as two of its top light heavyweights square off for a second time.
Ryan Bader will meet Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a five-round rematch atop UFC Fight Night 100 on Saturday at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bader took a unanimous decision from “Minotouro” in September 2010. In the co-headliner, Thomas Almeida looks to rebound from his first professional defeat, as he locks horns with the unbeaten Albert Morales at 135 pounds. The rest of the five-fight main card features a women’s strawweight clash pairing Claudia Gadelha with Cortney Casey, a middleweight affair pitting Thales Leites against Krzysztof Jotko and a welterweight battle matching Warlley Alves with Kamaru Usman.
Let us take a closer look at each UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. Nogueira 2” matchup, with analysis and picks:
Light HeavyweightsRyan Bader (21-5) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (22-7)
THE MATCHUP: Bader was once again kept from a shot at the title when he suffered an early knockout at the hands of Anthony Johnson, while Nogueira is about as far from the belt as one can get in this division while still coming off a win. With that being said, this should be an interesting fight, with both men vying to prove they are not yet done. Bader is 33, but that is not so old for a light heavyweight, and he has won five of his last seven bouts. Another winning streak like the one that ended earlier this year could very well put him into the title picture. Nogueira, on the other hand, looks even older than his 40 years, but he has proven time and again that he is not an opponent to be taken lightly.
“Minotouro” has long been regarded as the better boxer of the two Nogueira brothers -- and for good reason. As a southpaw, he has an excellent right jab and a left hand that carries surprising power and quickness. He couples both of these punches with a right hook that serves to counter opponents who stand around too long in the pocket. His jiu-jitsu, on the other hand, does not compare to that of his heavyweight brother. “Minotouro” has never secured a submission in the UFC, as he is neither a takedown artist nor very aggressive off of his back. He has, however, shown some solid takedown defense, especially in his fight with Patrick Cummins, whom Nogueira upset by knockout.
Bader is a constantly evolving fighter. Striking has been his latest development. He is no longer the right-hand-happy fighter Nogueira picked apart at UFC 119. Instead, he uses a stiff jab and a lot of movement to set up his power shots. More and more these days, those power shots come from Bader’s lower limbs. He savagely kicked Rashad Evans from long range in their October 2015 meeting and delivered a nuclear knee to the skull of Ilir Latifi in his last bout, ending matters about two minutes into the second round.
Of course, Bader’s wrestling is the real X-factor in this matchup. Nogueira’s takedown defense is not bad and his distance management makes it difficult for most to get close to his hips, but Bader is a phenomenal wrestler. He easily outwrestled Evans, beat Phil Davis in the scrambles and violently punished Anthony Perosh for even thinking of playing a guard game. He is extremely strong and surprisingly quick for his size. Wrestling was the deciding factor in Bader and Nogueira’s first meeting.
THE ODDS: Bader (-340), Nogueira (+280)
THE PICK: Nogueira really impressed me in his last fight. Coming in off a litany of recent injuries, he seemed too unreliable to pick against Cummins even if he did have a boxing advantage. What transpired, however, defied all expectation, as Nogueira picked apart Cummins in every conceivable way before shutting off his lights in the final seconds of the first round. None of that, however, guarantees he will be competitive with Bader, who, despite all of his dramatic setbacks, remains one of the best contenders in this division. Bader’s kicking game will allow him to compete at range much more effectively than he could six years ago, and his wrestling remains a huge advantage. If Bader can get on top -- and he can -- and deliver the kind of strikes he unleashed at UFC 119, then Nogueira’s crumbling chin will pay the price. Bader by second-round TKO is the pick.
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