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UFC 114 Preview: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz

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What more can be said about Antonio Rogerio Nogueira? Zuffa's acquisition of the PRIDE veteran was a great addition to an already deep 205 pound division. Minotoro possesses a versatile skill set. He is an accomplished practitioner of jiu-jitsu and is an accomplished amateur boxer, having won a bronze medal in the 2007 Pan Am Games and a gold medal in the 2006 South American Games. Nogueira made an impressive Octagon debut in November, knocking out Luis Cane. With Mauricio "Shogun" Rua now the world light heavyweight champion, could we be building to a rematch later in 2010? That could depend partly on how Antonio handles his business on Saturday night in Vegas. Nogueira will be 34-years-old in early June so now would be a good time to jump to the top of the light heavyweight heap and make his case for a world title shot. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has a professional record of 18-3 with five wins coming by way of knockout and six wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 68.3%.

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Perhaps it's due to the fact that the division has so many talented fighters, but Jason "The Hitman" Brilz is largely unknown to all but the hardcore fans. Sure, he's 3-1 since he began competing for the UFC in late 2008 but he still hasn't had that definitive win yet that will catapult him to be known by casual UFC fans. On Saturday night he has that opportunity. Most prognosticators that I've heard are giving him almost no shot at pulling off the upset but, for whatever it's worth, expect the best Jason Brilz we've seen yet. I've got to think that he's going to come out hungry and focused on getting the fight to the ground and pulling off what would be a noteworthy upset. Brilz, a good Division 2 wrestler years ago at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, is not a bad opponent for Joe Silva to find on short notice, especially in light of the fact that several other potential candidates were either injured or already scheduled for another card during the summer. Jason Brilz has a professional record of 18-2-1 with five wins coming by way of knockout and nine wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 55.0%.

The gut instinct of many fans is that this will be a lesser fight than the originally scheduled Nogueira vs. Griffin matchup. Although I think that Griffin is a better fighter than Brilz, perhaps Jason has a better shot of at least making this competitive. I'm inclined to think that Forrest would have attempted to stand and trade with Little Nog. I'm also inclined to think that would have ended poorly for the former champion. Brilz will almost certainly try to take this one to the mat and attempt to work some offense from there. Will he be successful? Doubtful. Will he have a better chance of accomplishing that than Griffin would have had exchanging punches with Nogueira? I think you can make a strong case. Nonetheless, my prediction: Nogueira by submission in the 2nd round.