This Saturday’s main event at UFC On Fuel TV 10 features a pair of heavyweights that while similar in age, are heading in two completely different directions. Future UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Minotauro Nogueira [34-7-1, 1 NC], will take on fellow Brazilian and third-ranked heavyweight, Fabricio Werdum [16-5-1], in a rematch of their 2006 fight that resulted in Nogueira taking home a three-round, unanimous decision victory while both were fighting for the now-defunct, ”Pride” organization.
For Nogueira however, numerous injuries that would have made most others call it quits years ago, seem to have finally taken their toll on the weathered veteran, and Saturday’s bout against Werdum could potentially be the last time that fight fans are fortunate enough to see the UFC’s ”Comeback King”, occupy his throne. Currently the UFC’s eighth-ranked, heavyweight contender, the 37 year old has wins over six former UFC champions, during a career that also includes the distinction of being the only MMA fighter in the sport’s history to win both the Pride and UFC heavyweight belts.
Having last fought on October 13, 2012 in a win over heavyweight Dave Herman, Nogueira will be making his ninth appearence inside the octagon and would make a significant move up the division’s rankings with a win against Werdum. The concern however, is if Nogueira does in fact suffer an injury, especially anything that involves his left eye, the former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion will be forced to call it a career and retire.
While a win on Saturday for the 35-year old, Fabricio Werdum won’t result in a move up the rankings to the highly contested position as the top, heavyweight contender, it would give Werdum the satisfaction of defeating a UFC legend as well as evening his career record against Nogueira. Winning his last outing against heavyweight Mike Russow in June of 2012, Werdum has fought just three times since defeating the seemingly immortal, Fedor Emelianenko by submission in June of 2010 while with Strikeforce.
First debuting for the UFC in April of 2007 in a loss to Andrei Arlovski, Werdum went on to beat both Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera while with the company in 2008. Losing to current, number one, heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos in October of 2008, Werdum left the UFC and signed on as one of the premier fighters for the Strikeforce promotion. After winning three of his first four fights while with Strikeforce, Werdum returned to the UFC on February 4th, 2012 with a huge win against Roy Nelson that immediately put the Brazilian back into the conversation as a contender for the heavyweight belt.
With the heavyweight division now stronger and more talented than ever before, Werdum is hoping to capiitalise on his top-five ranking this Saturday in front of his fellow countrymen.Now that the UFC’s Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is set to fight top contender, Junior dos Santos for a third time, Werdum’s experience in previous wins during the course of his career over top ten fighters such as Antonio ”Bigfoot” Silva and Alistair Overeem will be more important than ever.
Both Nogueira and Werdum possess well-rounded, somewhat unpredictable skill-sets that could turn Saturday’s main event into a ground war for the ages. With Werdum seemingly intent on another run at a UFC belt, the two will be taking very different paths once the fight is over.
For die-hard fight fans, this weekend’s matchup between the two heavyweight veterans may be the last chance that we have to watch the true professional and all-around, class act that Minotauro Nogueira is. Whether or not Nogueira departs the octagon victorious remains to be seen. What we do know is that regardless of the outcome, Nogueira will give everything he has before that final bell and if and when he does walk away, the sport will be without one of the toughest, most resilient heavyweights of all time.