UFC 190, going down in Brazil Saturday, August 1st, has a couple of intriguing heavyweight tilts underneath what many believe to be a main event squash match of Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva takes on Soa Palelei, while Big Nog, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, takes on the Skyscraper Stefan Struve.

Both of these bouts seem like fights to retain relevancy. A more cynical man might call them “loser leaves town” matches, but that may or may not be the case. To be sure, Silva, Nogueira, and Struve likely need wins to continue fighting, at least in the UFC. Palelei is the only one of the bunch who is coming off a win, and the rest are on losing streaks. None, however, was harder to watch than the recent performances of Pride legend Nogueira. To be fair, one of those was to recently crowned champion Fabricio Werdum, which might earn him a pass, but watching him shamble zombie-like towards the waiting weapon of mass destruction that is Roy Nelson’s right hand in his last fight, April 2014 in Abu Dhabi, was downright depressing.

That walk-off KO, prior to which Big Nog had been lit up repeatedly, was as much a call for retirement as a loss can be. It’s doubtful, however, that the Brazilian legend wanted to go out like that. Saturday at UFC 190, against Struve, he has a chance for redemption — though win or lose, he really should be looking at the ramifications continuing to fight will have on his health.

All that makes for a deep storyline for a fight that might otherwise seem inconsequential. With Nogueira fighting on the same card as his twin brother, there’s added drama due to family ties, making it a huge night for the family, in the heart of their territory.

What must Nogueira do to win?

Fight Smart

Nogueira is a Black belt in Jiu-jitsu, one of the best to ever set foot in the UFC. One of the best in MMA history, frankly, especially in the heavyweight division. Stefan Struve is brown belt, with a wide range of submissions in his arsenal, but it’s likely that Nogueira has the edge on the mat. If this goes to the ground, Big Nog needs to fight smart, latch on to one of Struve’s long limbs, and go for the sub. He does, however, need to be wary of being caught in a sub himself.

Get Inside

Stefan Struve has said he wants to knock Big Nog out in the first round. While it’s certainly possible, Struve has never shown that he’s able to use his length to the best of his ability. If Minotauro can get inside and make things ugly, he has a fantastic opportunity to make it a short night for Struve, who has suffered a pair of devastating TKO/KO losses to Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem, taking time away from the sport to deal with a broken jaw and heart troubles in between them.

Do Not Look Past Your Opponent

Nogueira has been talking about a fourth fight with Fedor Emelianenko, as the Last Emperor recently announced that he was coming out of retirement. While there’s no question that he would like a chance to earn a win over the Russian at long last (he lost twice, and was part of a no contest, against the man many consider the greatest fighter of all time), Minotauro cannot sleep on Struve. Doing so may be his downfall.

Does Nogueira have enough gas left in the tank to tackle the Skyscraper? We’ll find out Saturday night!

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.