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UFC 153 preview: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira returns from injury to face Dave Herman

The UFC 153 co-main event will feature a heavyweight bout between MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Dave Herman that’s set for Saturday night in Brazil. This is a fight that’s very important for both fighters. Herman is looking at potentially being cut from the promotion with another loss. Nogueira is coming off a horrific broken arm submission loss in his last outing, and there are questions about how much longer he’ll be able to fight. It should be an exciting fight, so let’s break it down and see who wins it.

Dave Herman (21-4) is coming off back-to-back KO losses to Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson. Herman has won 15 fights via TKO/KO and five fights via submission and has only allowed one fight to go the the judges in his career. Herman is a fighter with decent wrestler, decent striking, and is also versed in submissions even though he always talks trash about jiu-jitsu. Herman is an athletic heavyweight with a long wingspan who loves to dish out punishment, but also leaves himself open to receive punishment so this should be an exciting fight.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 1NC) is coming off the broken arm submission loss to Frank Mir at UFC 140. It was a fight that Nogueira had in the bag as he had rocked Mir with punches on the feet, then tried to submit him instead of finishing him with strikes on the ground. Nogueira has won 20 fights via submission and three wins via TKO/KO. Nogueira arguably the best heavyweight submission ace of all time, but he does have serviceable boxing as well that has developed power in his later years. He has always had a great chin, and while he may not be able to take the punishment he took in his prime, he’s still shown the ability to trade punches in the pocket with heavy hitters.

Top Bet has Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as the betting favorite at (-310) and Herman as the underdog at (+250).

I’m not sure that Nogueira should that huge of a favorite in this fight, but I do think he is the favorite. Herman has been much more active this year with two fights in 2012, whereas Nogueira hasn’t fought since December 2011. That long layoff could be a factor in this fight. Also, we have no idea of knowing if Nogueira’s arm and shoulder will be able to perform the way it did before the breakage against Mir.

I think this fight will play out on the feet for the most part. I’m not sure Nogueira will be able to take Herman down unless he pulls guard, however, Nogueira has shown more willingness to engage on the feet than in years past. Both fighters are roughly the same size with the same reach, but Herman will have the speed advantage on the feet. I expect Herman to attack with lots of leg kicks to try and take away what little bit of mobility that Nogueira has these days. However, Herman typically carries his hands fairly low and will be susceptible to counters from Nogueira. Also, Nogueira usually moves forward with pressure which could make it difficult for Herman put his strikes together.

The biggest x-factor in this fight besides the things I’ve already mentioned is the cardio of Herman. He has the propensity to gas during his fights which will not bode well for him if that happens against Nogueira.

Nogueira will plod forward with pressure and will need to use good head movement to be successful in this fight. Also, he’ll need to look to counter the leg kicks that Herman likes to throw with over hand rights since Herman tends to keep his hands low. Herman probably has the power to rock Nogueira and put him away if he connects properly. If that doesn’t happen, I think Nogueira will wear him down with constant pressure and finish a gassed Herman late in the second round or in the third. Nogueira will have the advantage on the ground should the fight go there, but I don’t see Herman wanting any parts of that even though he stated he wanted to submit Nogueira.

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