There were a lot of questions surrounding Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s return to the Octagon, but in front of a rabid crowd in Rio, Nogueira made a thunderous statement. Nogueira weathered an early storm to score a first round knockout victory over surging heavyweight prospect Brendan Schaub.
Coming off an 18-month layoff, which included multiple surgeries, there was doubt as to what the MMA legend had left. Schaub came into the fight riding the momentum of a four fight win streak and was favored to add Nogueira’s name to his resume. Tonight, Nogueira proved that it’s a mistake to ever count him out.
The fight got underway with Schaub scoring early with his boxing. The TUF alum landed several big punches and successfully stuffed Nogueira’s takedowns. As the action hit the cage in the clinch, Schaub was able to out-muscle Nogueira for position and land a right hand that appeared to wobble the UFC veteran.
Although Schaub beat Nogueira to the punch on nearly every exchange, “Big Nog” continued to press forward, bringing the fight to the former NFL player. Nogueira continued to try to tie Schaub up, but he was unsuccessful and ate several more big punches on the break.
The tide of the fight changed when Nogueira was able to press Schaub into the cage, landing a huge left hook that snapped Schaub’s head back. With his opponent reeling, Nogueira poured it on and finished Schaub with a flurry of punches ending the fight in dramatic fashion.
The victory comes as an emotional high-point for the veteran as tonight’s victory is his first since 2009 when he defeated UFC Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture at UFC 102.