19 Nov 2009 12:24:08 PM
(Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Dan Henderson, 4/23/05)
Of the 22 fighters testing their fates on Saturday night, three of them will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time — but don’t expect these guys to crack under the pressure. Read on to meet the MMA veterans and submission experts who will be trying to make dominant first impressions at "Ortiz vs. Griffin II"…
ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA (LHW)
Experience: 17-3 record, with notable victories over Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem (twice), Kazushi Sakuraba, and Vladimir Matyushenko (in January, which avenged his first career loss). Has won his last five fights, most recently submitting Dion Staring via triangle choke in May.
Will be facing: Luis Cane (10-1 with 1 no-contest, 3-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Whether you know him better as "Minotoro" or "Lil’ Nog," there’s a good chance you’re already aware of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s twin brother. The 33-year-old veteran of PRIDE, Affliction, and Sengoku has had a decorated career dating back to March 2001, and is considered by many to be one of the ten best light-heavyweights in the world right now. Though Antonio Rogerio comes from a BJJ background like his bro (who he trains with at Black House), four of his last six wins have come via TKO, and he won a bronze medal in boxing at the 2007 Pan American Games. Minotoro hasn’t lost a fight since his shock-upset KO defeat against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at PRIDE 33, nearly three years ago. Says Rogerio of his UFC debut: “For more than three years, UFC was my goal and now I’m just very happy to be here in the best event. The UFC has the best talent in the world, and I feel like now I’m going to be challenged like I’ve never been challenged before in my career…The fans can expect to see a very well-trained and well-prepared athlete who’s very focused and determined to win."