Two of the most dangerous Brazilian heavyweights in history collided last night (June 8, 2013) as Fabricio Werdum battled former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 10 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Nogueira had won the previous match-up with a solid mixture of boxing, wrestling and top control.
Seven years later, many things had changed, most notably Werdum's ability to fire back with decent strikes of his own. "Vai Cavalo" attacked early and often with leg kicks both to the inside and outside of Nogueira's legs, occasionally slipping in a left jab.
Nogueira was unable to respond from a distance, but he took a page out of the Randy Couture playbook by initiating clinches, taking inside position and attacking with dirty boxing. This helped "Minotauro" score with short knees and punches and it was his go-to move for offensive attacks.
Every time Werdum has space, he was able to blast Nogueira's legs or pepper him with jabs, but Noguera's response was to pressure forward with combinations and close the distance with a clinch.
When Werdum scored a takedown, Nogueira showcased some of his wily deep half guard game, although he wasn't able to score the big sweeps he was hoping for.
In the second round, Werdum again took the fight to the ground, although he was helped by an ill-advised guillotine attempt from Nogueira. When Werdum passed Nogueira's half guard into side control, he began looking to finish the fight. Nogueira attempted to turtle and explode to his feet, but Werdum pounced on his back, simply being too quick and explosive for him. Instead of hunting for a choke, he dove belly-down for an armbar.
While Nogueira didn't tap, he made enough noise during the painful submission attempt to force a stoppage to the fight, granting Werdum his revenge seven years in the making.
For Nogueira, while his mind is still in the game, his body just isn't capable of keeping up. He looked very slow on the ground, lacking that explosion he needed to properly utilize the deep half guard game he made so famous and even wrote books about. It's painfully obvious that he can't hang with the top heavyweights in the world, having now lost via stoppage four times to current top 10 guys.