The Ultimate Fighter serves as a chance to quicken the careers of promising mixed martial artists but UFC 140 will display what the top of the food chain has to offer come Saturday night from Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s Air Canada Center. The light heavyweight title is up for grabs when current champ “Bones” Jon Jones (14-1) tries to cap off his year in spectacular fashion against the former 205lbs. king “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (17-2). A heavyweight rematch is set when Frank Mir (15-5) takes on “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6-1) in the co-main event. Hometown heroes “The Prince” Claude Patrick (14-1) and “The Machine” Mark Hominick (19-8) will try to make their country proud when they meet Brian Ebersole (44-14-1) and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (11-3), respectively. In the middle of all the action, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (16-9-1) tries to make good of his 2011 when he meets an equally dangerous fighter in “Little Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Both posses the hands and the grappling credentials to get the job done and with each returning with a loss behind them, they will go at whatever lengths possible to break back into the winning circle.
At First Glance: With a loss leading him into the match, Tito Ortiz still seems to be getting much praise as of late with his Guillotine submission victory over “Darth” Ryan Bader (13-2) at UFC 132 and a valiant effort before falling to “Suga” Rashad Evans (16-1-1) a month after at UFC 133. Ortiz seems to be revitalized at this point in his career but if he wants to stay relevant in this day and age, he needs to collect wins. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira may have a 2-2 record with the UFC but minus his stoppage victory over “Banha” Luiz Cane (9-4) in his promotional debut, he has been falling relatively short of superb. His name is virtually a staple in everything mixed martial arts related however dropping a third loss in a row to the former light heavyweight champion could see Nogueira getting that proverbial axe from the UFC roster.
In Depth: Nogueira has some dangerous boxing and slick Jiu-Jitsu, of this there is no doubt. However if there was a gaping hole that Nogueira’s past three opponents have shown, it is his wrestling game. Unfortunately, the UFC did not grant him any favors by matching him with a wrestler for the fourth time in a row. “The Hitman” Jason Brilz (18-5-1) was the first to expose Nogueira’s Achilles’ heel when he pushed Nogueira for three rounds just to come up short in a controversial Split Decision loss. Ryan Bader and “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (8-0) though would perfect the strategy of mixing their strikes with takedowns together to string two losses for the PRIDE FC veteran. Granted Nogueira has respectable takedown defense, he still plays well into Ortiz’s predictable, yet effective, game plan to be brought down and pounded on shortly after. What Nogueira has to do is try to keep Ortiz standing and honest in the stand-up. Nogueira’s boxing comes along more fluid and natural as opposed to Ortiz’s which is serviceable but would look elementary in comparison. If he can keep Ortiz busy trying to defend against the punch rather than seeking to change the dimensions of the fight, Nogueira could hand deliver “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” his second loss in row.
Wild Card: Distance will be everything for Tito Ortiz. Back in the elder days of the UFC, Ortiz was arguably the best at using the cage in order to close escape routes from his ground-and-pound. Now as time has changed and fighters have used the cage as a way to fight their way out of trouble, Ortiz will have to rely on coming in closer with his strikes or possibly clinch with Nogueira to land the takedown without any possible cage assistance especially considering how his power-driven double-legs lose steam as the fight carries on. The downside for this is with a highly skilled boxer like Nogueira, he is more at risk of taking some heavy shots long before his own even occur.
The Verdict: Ortiz has the striking but the takedowns and strikes from above is where he holds superiority. Nogueira has the clear boxing advantage and Jiu-Jitsu that makes him a threat in all areas. Collided, it will be Nogueira’s overall takedown defense that means the most in the fight. Although he stuffed a few attempts from Bader and Davis, he ultimately got suckered in and brought down and with a jaw like Ortiz’s, it is unlikely he will easily rock him into a stoppage. Seeing as how takedowns still score enough points as the damage itself, Nogueira will likely fall again to a wrestler but without putting up a fight behind it. Ortiz via Unanimous Decision