“If you’re going to play jiu-jitsu in the UFC, you have to be comfortable enough to play on the bottom. You have to have a strong chin and not be afraid of the punches when you play guard. You can’t have any fear to play jiu-jitsu. You know you’re going to open holes. You know you’re going to get hit and take a lot of punishment, but you have to remain calm and watch very carefully because a hole will open at any time…When your opponent is punching you, yes, he’s hurting you maybe, but he’s opening holes and putting himself at risk, too. In my last fight [at UFC 102] with Randy, if you watched, you can see that Randy threw the elbow and I swept him. I let him stay [in my guard] and be comfortable because I knew he would be open. You learn from experience. There’s pain, but there’s also gain.”
—Minotauro Nogueira talking to Yahoo! Sports about what it takes to be effective from the guard in MMA
Cain Velasquez is such a strong wrestler, Nogueira will undoubtedly find himself on the bottom at least once or twice on Saturday night. That’s not a place most fighters would want to be against Velasquez, but Nogueira has made his living getting pounded from the top only to pull out seemingly miraculous submissions late in fights. He’s obviously very comfortable there, so the question at UFC 110 will be whether or not Velasquez gives Nogueira the opening he needs to pull off the win. It’s a chess match I cant wait to watch.
Image via Sherdog