Shogun vs. Lil Nog
If there was ever a confluence of high end gatekeepers at 205 pounds then this is it. Shogun, Evans and Henderson (Strikeforce) have all held light heavyweight titles while Lil Nog
has continually flirted with a championship opportunity. All we need is Lyoto Machida and Alex Gustafsson on this card and we’d have a perfect storm of the top light heavies gunning for Jon Jones’s strap. But let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about Shogun and Nogueira.
You’ll have to mentally travel back to June 26th, 2005 when last these two fighters met. As a matter of fact it was the only time Shogun and Lil Nog exchanged unpleasantries. Shogun wound up on the winning end of a three-round unanimous decision in a fight for the ages. But that was 2005 Pride and this is 2013 UFC so let’s try to figure out if anything has changed.
Both fighters have sputtered a bit as Shogun has alternated wins and losses over his last seven fights with his most recent being a unanimous decision defeat to up-and-comer Alexander Gustafsson. His opponent, Antonio Nogueira was on the verge of having his ticket punched clean out of the UFC when he dropped consecutive decisions to young guns Ryan Bader and Phil Davis. However, the third-degree BJJ artist rebounded by TKO’ing a fading legend in Tito Ortiz and then sitting out 2012 before being awarded a unanimous decision over Sugar Rashad Evans in February at UFC 156.
Though Lil Nog has won his last two fights I believe the 36-year-old will be no match for the younger (by five years) Shogun. Nogueira beat an over-the-hill Tito Ortiz and subsequently caught Evans at his absolute worst in a sluggish affair that made losers out of both Rashad Evans and anyone who was forced to watch it. If Shogun’s trend of alternating wins and losses continues then he’s due for a win here and he will get it in our sports picks.
Play Shogun Rua -170
Evans vs. Henderson
Rashad Evans cannot be happy with his last performance in the Octagon. He was slow, lethargic and looked almost disinterested in locking up with Antonio Nogueira at UFC 156 in February. Perhaps he was still stewing over the loss to his former friend and protégé Jon Jones but whatever he was thinking, he better think again when he takes on Dan Henderson.
Henderson on the other hand continues to defy Father Time. Currently 42-years-old, he reeled off four straight victories (including a unanimous decision over Shogun Rua) before dropping a split decision to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157.
The contrast in styles should be interesting to say the least just as long as Evans decides to become engaged. Hendo has 13 knockouts in his 29 wins while Evans, known primarily for his wrestling and grappling ability, has displayed flashes of power with six KO’s in 17 victories. Henderson is certainly no slouch in the wrestling department having participated on the 1992 and 1996 US Olympic Roman-Greco wrestling team. Neither fighter is a real threat to submit the other as they rely on their takedown skills to pummel their opponents on the mat. Furthermore, Henderson has defied some of the world’s greatest submission artists of which Evans is certainly not one.
The truth be told, I’m a bit conflicted. I am always cautious of a fighter’s decreasing abilities after the age of 35; therefore Dan Henderson has me more than a bit worried his body will suddenly realize he’s heavily vested into middle age. Conversely, Evans most recent “effort” has me doubting his commitment to mixing it up. He won’t have his traditional wrestling advantage in this one and I like the power Hendo can pack if he gets a clean shot. After perusing the UFC odds, I don’t think the “Sugar” is gonna be so sweet at UFC 161.
Bet Dan Henderson +100 at 5Dimes.eu as our UFC pick.