UFC 134 fight card: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Brendan Schaub showcases the evolution of the sport

When Brendan Schaub vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira goes down tonight (Aug. 27, 2011) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at UFC 134: "Silva vs. Okami," we will be watching evolution in motion.

Not necessarily of the fighter's themselves, although that is most definitely the case, but of the sport as a whole. This is the process that must take place in order for the sport to continue to grow and flourish.

Out with the old, in with the new.

"Minotauro" Nogueira is the oldest 35-year-old man on planet Earth. He's a throwback to the days of Pride, filled with mismatches and odd freak show fights, such as his bout against Bob Sapp. "Big Nog" got suplexed onto his head that night, only to come back to submit "The Beast."

That's the story of his career. He's been through enough wars to last 10 men a lifetime and it shows on his face, in his movements and in his overall demeanor.

We may not want to say goodbye, but the signs are crystal clear ... Nogueira's time in the sport is rapidly approaching the end.

Brendan Schaub is on the opposite end of the spectrum. A 28-year-old former football player in his athletic prime, he's occupied the role of the "Grim Reaper" in the UFC over the last year.

For the purposes of the fight game, he fits the mold perfectly.

No longer a rookie but not yet a top contender, Schaub's skills, as well as his comfort level, have grown each time he's stepped inside the Octagon. Matchmakers have done well with giving him gradually tougher competition, all resulting in the imminent end to legendary careers. 

He battered Gabriel Gonzaga in Oct. 2010, sending "Napao" into retirement. He did the same to Mirko Filipovic in March of this year, making it obvious that "Cro Cop" needs to call it quits. He will reportedly do so after fulfilling his contract this coming Oct. against Roy Nelson.

And now it's time for Schaub to take on another legend in Nogueira. Beloved as he may be, it would seem clear that Schaub has made his way into the belly of the beast to deliver the Brazilian people the bad news.

Their hero is going away. Enjoy this one last dance.

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