Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira entered UFC 190 fighting for a storybook ending to his legendary career. He didn’t get it.
For most of the fight, his opponent, Stefan Struve, utilized his absurdly long reach to peg Nogueira from a safe distance. While the former Pride great occasionally worked things to the cage, he was never really able to convert it into takedowns, strikes or any real sustained offense.
The minutes wore on, and Struve’s landed strikes total kept on rising. So, too, did his score with the judges. In the end, the Skyscraper would walk away with a unanimous 30-27 decision win. So what did we learn?
Stefan Struve Has Not Really Improved
With his spindly limbs and colossal height and reach advantage, Struve could easily be a high-level heavyweight. His iffy performance against a plodding, old Nogueira, however, did not wow anyone who has been watching him for any length of time.
If there were ever a time where Struve should’ve looked unstoppable, it was right here. Nogueira was barely a practice dummy in this fight. His complete lack of explosiveness or power made it so Struve barely had to worry about return fire. This should have been the ultimate showcase match. Mookie Alexander of BloodyElbow.com wasn’t too impressed:
The fact that Struve isn’t blowing Nogueira away is not a good sign for his potential, either. It’s just a matter of getting a win.
— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) August 2, 2015
But sheesh, there wasn’t a moment in the fight where it really felt like Struve was dominating. That’s not good, ladies and gentlemen, and quite frankly, that sort of performance would have resulted in a loss against almost any other heavyweight.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Really, Really Needs to Retire
This has been stated many times over, but it’s worth repeating. Nogueira really needs to retire. Really, really needs to.
Nogueira never mounted any form of sustained offense, outside a couple of blink-and-you-missed-it moments when the fight went to the ground. He was slow and lacked even the minimum level of explosiveness that an actual punch or kick needs.
Short of a Bellator post-lim card fight, there isn’t a single heavyweight in a major promotion that this writer can imagine Nogueira beating. Everything from here on is just shaving time off his golden years.
Stefan Struve Still Has Some Potential
Struve didn’t look great here, but it wasn’t the kind of performance that made him somebody to cash out on. It may take a while, and there’s no guarantee he’ll actually realize his potential, but the Skyscraper still seems like somebody who can grow into a top fighter.
Struve finally seems to know what he should be doing. While he isn’t necessarily executing it brilliantly, he is moving in a positive direction, and demonstrated every technique a lanky fighter should have in his arsenal (rear uppercut, front kick, jab, etc.). If he finally becomes comfortable standing and can finally start utilizing his length in more ways, it could get the ball rolling on a return to the top 10.
Will he ever be UFC champion at this point? Probably not. Still, there’s definitely a glimmer of hope there for the Dutchman.
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