The third bout on the pay per view broadcast pits two long-time veterans of the sport against each other as The Huntington Beach Bad Boy faces off against Little Nog. The stakes are high for the bout as a loss would be Nog's third straight, likely ending his UFC tenure, while a second consecutive defeat for Ortiz would go a good way toward erasing the reputation boost he earned in his own last-chance bout with Ryan Bader.
Despite what even the most ardent Ortiz backers would call a poor run of form in the past half decade, Ortiz remains one of the most popular fighters in the UFC, and has a public presence surpassed, perhaps, only by that of Chuck Liddell. With two stints as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter and a run on NBC's The Apprentice, Ortiz continued to build off a public reputation which already saw himself and Liddell established as the faces of the sport in its early-Zuffa years.
After taking a one-year contract dispute hiatus following his win over Forrest Griffin, Ortiz has never managed to regain his standing among the top of the division he once lorded over. A pair of wins over a spent Ken Shamrock earned him a shot at Liddell's belt, which ended with Ortiz on the wrong side of a beating which started a run of five winless bouts. With his career in jeopardy, Ortiz provided a minor shock to the MMA world by dropping then subbing Ryan Bader to regain his standing in the division, but his comeback story was derailed when a late fill-in against Rashad Evans ended with a second round TKO loss.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Although Ortiz has servicable stand up and an underrated submission arsenal, his fighting forte starts and ends with the fine art of ground and pound. In his prime, few fighters were better at putting their opponent on his back and making life miserable with strikes from on top. Although he is not likely to threaten Little Nog with subs, his submission defense should be enough to keep him safe against the dangerous BJJ black belt, as Ortiz's only defeat to a submission hold came via a Guy Mezger guillotine in just Ortiz's second fight, for which he was still an unpaid amateur in order to maintain his college wrestling eligibility.
Much like the fight before it, this bout would seem to match up two fighters unlikely to end the other's night quickly. Prior to saving his job against Bader, Ortiz hadn't finished an opponent not named Ken Shamrock since UFC 32 in June of 2001. A three round unaninmous decision is the way to go with Ortiz. Ortiz goes off with a minus line in fantasy betting despite being a nearly 2-to-1 underdog at the sports books, due in large part to his popularity and familiarity with casual fans. Don't write off Ortiz as entirely unplayable, as he is certainly capable of turning in a winning performance here, but tread carefully when considering putting a large bet down against the pros.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira analysis after the jump.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Although Nogueira may not have the mainstream television exposure of Ortiz, he has to at least get half credit for his twin brother's season as a coach opposite Frank Mir on TUF. Like his opponent, Little Nog is another carryover from the early-oughts MMA scene looking to keep his career going in an increasingly young talent pool.
Little Nog also saw his UFC fortunes turn in a bout against Ryan Bader like Ortiz, however that represented significantly less of a positive in the Brazilian's case. Little Nog joined his brother in the UFC shortly after the fall of Affliction on the back of a five-fight winning streak, and quickly added a TKO of Luiz Cane and a controversial decision against Jason Brilz to his tear. A dominant decision for Bader brought an end to the good fortunes, however, and a follow up loss to Phil Davis has seen Little Nog moved down from fighting the division's up-and-comers into a veterans bout which may well end with one fewer UFC employee.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Nogueira brothers are known for their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prowess, and with good reason, however the smaller of the twins is actually more accomplished in the striking arts when outside the cage. A South American Games gold medalist and Pan Am Games bronze medalist in boxing, Little Nog is a dangerous opponent for Ortiz to stand across from, even if his iron skull may stave off a TKO. The concern for Little Nog in this fight comes from his prior three outings where he struggled against American wrestlers and found it difficult to work his BJJ effectively to earn sweeps or submissions. If Ortiz isn't made to feel uncomfortable in Nog's guard, the fight could be a long one for Rogerio.
Although Little Nog has rarely won by decision of late, the flip side of the Ortiz coin comes into play here. Like his last win, Ortiz's last loss comes by stoppage, however also like his wins it came after a long stretch where only one opponent Ortiz faced since September of 1999 had been able to stop him. That man was an in-his-prime Chuck Liddell who was in the midst of a run of twelve-straight fights finished, for better or worse, inside the distance. If Nog is your guy, a unanimous decision is your method. Just as the money odds imply Ortiz is overvalued on the fantasy books, the slim -125 line for a fighter going off as high of a favorite as -225 means anyone not sold on the rebirth of Tito Ortiz would be wise to throw some fantasy cheddar on the Brazilian.