UFC 190 Fight Preview: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Stefan Struve

Antonio Rodrigo NogueiraOne of the featured fights on UFC 190 is a heavyweight contest between MMA legend Rodrigo “Minatauro” Nogueira and the much younger Stefan Struve. Both fighter are coming off of devastating knockouts and are looking to get back on track with a win on Saturday night. This should be a fight that is a treat for hardcore fans as long as it lasts.   Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-9 MMA, 5-5 UFC, +140 underdog) Nogueira Is one of the best and most accomplished heavyweights in the history of mixed martial arts. Long before entering the UFC, he was the Pride FC Heavyweight Champion. He’s faced some of the greatest names in the sport, such as Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett, Mirko Cro Cop, Cain Velasquez, and Fabricio Werdum. Nogueira has been very inactive of late due to a plethora of injuries. His body seems to be failing him and he will turn 40 years old in a few days. The wear and tear on his body is quite noticeable. Still, his desire to compete remains and he will probably continue fight until his body completely gives out. On the feet Rodrigo works a stiff jab, straight right, and left hook. While he is not a big puncher, he still has the power to finish fights. However, the meat and potatoes of his attack revolves around his ground game. He can work from top position and from guard. On top he is a slick passer and is very hard to shrug off once he gains top control. Rodrigo also likes to utilize a variety of sweeps to get back on top and he will jump on a submission from several different positions. In the clinch he likes to batter his opponents with hard knees and elbows. As I said he will not be able to beat the best guys anymore, but he is still a big name that the UFC can use to sell tickets. It should also be noted that his once rock solid durability and iron chin have deteriorated severely. Rodrigo has not fought since suffering a brutal knockout loss to Roy Nelson in April of last year.   Stefan Struve (25-7. 9-5 UFC, -160 favorite)  Struve has also faced many of the best fighters in today’s heavyweight division, though he has not had nearly the same success as Nogueira. He does have solid wins over Stipe Miocic, Pat Barry, and Dave Herman. The 27-year old native of The Netherlands is a giant of a man, standing in at just under seven feet tall and weighing 273 pounds. Stefan was on a four-fight winning streak until Mark Hunt brought that to a halt with a huge left hook. Unfortunately for him, he had his jaw broken in that fight and to make matters worse, he was diagnosed with a rare heart disorder. He only recently got cleared to fight again, which was against Alistair Overeem in December. He came into that fight on almost a two-year layoff, which certainly hindered his performance. He ended up getting knocked out by vicious ground and pound in the first round. Struve now looks to bounce back and earn his first victory inside the Octagon since late 2012. As I said, Struve is nearly seven feet tall and will hold a significant height and reach advantage over everyone in the heavyweight division. The problem is that he does not know how to use that reach very well. He often closes the distance for his opponent, which makes it easier for them to hit him. Struve is a solid, but not elite, striker. He has a long, crisp jab and some pop in his right hand. However, I think he is the most dangerous on the ground. His long legs allow him to easily lock in triangles and armbars. Further, he has quick transitions on the ground and his guard game is one of the best in the division. Areas of concern are of course his recent inactivity and his durability. Struve has been knocked out several times now and the chin is something that does not recover. Luckily for him, Nogueira is not a tremendously hard hitter. Cardio is another area where he could improve, as he has gassed out in previous fights. Since we didn’t get to see much of his game against Overeem, perhaps he will showcase some new wrinkles this time around against the Brazilian legend.   Thoughts on the Match-up This is a tough one to call because both fighters are on bad streaks and have been very inactive. If this was 5 years ago Nogueira would win easily, but now I think Struve will be able to pull this one out. Nogueira’s fragile body and weak chin could plague him once again, and I think that is the most likely outcome. Nogueira can win this fight if she shows up in great shape and has a vintage performance but I don’t see it. I will side with the younger and fresher fighter to get the victory here.   The Prediction: Stefan Struve defeats Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by knockout (round 2).

Written by Mike James

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