While MMA is a wild bag of unpredictable tricks inside the cage, once the fighting stops it’s still the same familiar newsreel over and over again. That’s why we weren’t at all surprised to hear that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would like a shot at Brock Lesnar’s UFC heavyweight title, or that he thinks his experience would be the key to beating the big man:
"A lot of jiu-jitsu and good standing up, make him tired man, move around, move around. When I get his timing, hit him with a good right hand and box him, box him and get him tired. …I’m kind of calm. I can listen to my coach. I’ve been in there a long time. I can see what’s going on. I have more experience than him. That’s a big advantage I have. …If he goes on the top into my guard, I can play with him. Let’s see, let’s see what is going to happen."
First of all, if hot-headed homophobe Brock Lesnar even hears that Nogueira mentioned a desire to “play with him,” things are going to get ugly. Fortunately, he doesn’t have the internet, so we should be fine. Second of all, we know Nogueira has beaten some behemoths in his time, but that doesn’t mean he could do the same to Lesnar, for a couple of reasons.
Back when Nogueira slayed the 300+ lbs. giant that was Bob Sapp, he hadn’t been in the kind of wars that would later take their toll on him. He’d never met Fedor Emelianenko or Josh Barnett, not to mention all the little bumps and bruises and staph infections and kicks upside the head from Heath Herring that a fighter encounters along the way.
What’s more, we know now that Sapp is about as unskilled a big man as there is in MMA. He’s all muscle and no technique, plus he has the cardio of an infant. No wonder Nogueira thinks the key to beating a big man is to make him tired. Bob Sapp is winded by the time he walks down to the ring.
What Nogueira may not be considering is that Lesnar is a former Division I national champion wrestler. He has plenty of skill on the mat, and he’s proved that he can go three rounds without looking like he’s going to vomit. Beating a guy like that is not going to be as simple as circling and jabbing for a round or two and then playing with him in the guard. That’s how you end up getting hammer-fisted until your eyes roll back in your head.
Odds are Nogueira would have to win at least one more high-profile fight before the UFC would seriously consider giving him a shot at the title (which, let’s not forget, is up for grabs at UFC 106, so who knows if Lesnar will even have it after that), so we don’t need to start worrying about the integrity of Nog’s skull or the clotting ability of his blood just yet.