One of MMA's legends returned to the cage after a long layoff last night (Oct. 13, 2012) as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira squared off against Dave Herman in the co-main event of UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Nogueira hadn't been seen since having his arm brutally broken by Frank Mir last year at UFC 140. His returned had been delayed once already because his arm had not properly healed, but this time, he made it count.
Dave Herman had repeatedly stated that "jiu-jitsu doesn't work on him," throughout the pre-fight trash talk, so how was Nogueira able to make the American tap out for the first time in his career? And what happens next for both fighters?
Early on, Herman tried to utilize his length, but it was not very effective. He stood still with his hand outstretched and his fingers open, almost as a ploy to force Nogueira to gouge his own eyes if he were to dive in and close the distance.
Despite this, Nogueira was able to juke Herman's hands and get inside, landing left and right hooks with power. Herman was able to respond early with heavy kicks to the legs and body, but Nogueira walked through them like they were nothing.
That had to be frustrating.
By the second round, Nogueira started landing his strikes much more consistently, even dropping Herman with a big left hook. he dove on top of Herman and passed his guard all the way to mount but Nogueira dove for a bit of a sloppy armbar and Herman was able to spin his body away from the position and escape back to his feet.
An ill-advised flying knee from Herman was countered with a sharp left hand again and this also easily put him in a position for Nogueira to take him down. This time, Nogueira was more controlled in his attack, passing to mount and working for the armbar once more. While Herman was keeping his arms clasped together pretty nicely and was turned towards Nogueira, for some reason he flipped over and allowed Nogueira to go belly-down with his arm fully extended.
This time, there was no escape and Herman was forced to tap after fighting it for a few seconds.
I guess jiu-jitsu does work.
For Dave Herman, he did some things correctly like shutting down Nogueira's deep half guard game, but for the most part, this was yet another case of poor fight IQ and technique getting the better of him. Standing completely still with nearly no footwork or head movement made him a very easy target for not only Nogueira's strikes on the feet but his takedowns as well. His final scramble where he basically gift wrapped the armbar to Nogueira by flipping over was another of those key mistakes and the flying knee which allowed Nogueira to take him down was something he'll be regretting today. He's still very athletic and he showcased some pretty impressive physical tools, but at this point, fans have to be wondering if he'll ever actually put it all together.
It's doubtful he'll be cut considering all three of his current UFC losses in a row were to SBN top 10 heavyweights. For his next bout, expect to see him step in against someone like Pat Barry, Shane Del Rosario or perhaps Christian Morecraft.
For Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, while he didn't look to be in the best physical condition, he looked as strong as ever. His striking was on point, he was accurate and his ground game, while slightly sloppy on a couple of occasions, was very lethal. It seemed like he went out of his way to finish Herman via submission after the pre-fight talk and it paid off for him. His guard passes were phenomenal on the ground as well. This was simply a case of him taking an overmatched opponent to school.
Next up, Nogueira has quite a few options. The UFC could move forward with the originally scheduled fight against Cheick Kongo considering both men won their respective bouts. Other options include Mark Hunt or perhaps Antonio Silva.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did you think Nogueira made it a point to submit Herman after his pre-fight comments? Will Herman ever be able to put it all together or is he just a waste of potential?