The UFC usually reserves one of their bigger cards of the year for SUPER BOWL weekend, and the first match for the 2013 edition is ready to sign. Former UFC Light heavyweight Champion and ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality show winner Rashad Evans will face Antonio Rogerio Noguiera in a fight that will leave the winner one step closer to a title fight with the formidable Jon Jones. It is a big fight, and Evans will almost certainly be favored at the sports books when the lines are issued. Noguiera is a skilled veteran who is 1-2 in his last 3 outings and desperately needs a win. Does L’il Nog have it in him is the question…
The immediate answer is no. Noguiera’s last two losses are to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis. Though he took both the full length of three rounds, both men’s wrestler bases were able to dictate where the match took place and Noguiera was not able to overcome that.
In terms of using athleticism and wrestling to control the match, Evans is well above both Bader and Davis in terms of controlling. Noguiera is a high skill opponent, but he has slowed over the years and is on the plus side of 35, so he is likely to be at Evans’ mercy throughout the fight.
Evans needs a win to stay in the upper echelon, and potentially be in the sweepstakes for a superfight with Anderson Silva. The bottom line is Evans is not only fighting Noguiera, he is fighting to stay in the title pictures, potentially in two divisions. The idea has not caught on yet in the business, by Evans himself mentioned potentially taking on Silva at some point.
Bettor’s should not be confused by Big Nog Rodrigo‘s recent performance against Ed Herman. Despite being genetic twins, Rogerio is smaller and has always been a notch below his brother in terms of performance. Big Nog was a champion with PRIDE and held a version of the UFC Heavyweight title as well, and Rogerio has never broken thru for one of MMA’s important titles.
Evans is the wrong opponent to expect a break thru against. Either stay away from this fight on the bettor’s end, or prepare to lay the juice on Evans. Not even the spectre of a cut from the UFC for going 1-3 in his last 4 bouts can help to save L’il Nog.