Nogueira, Velasquez take center stage Down Under at UFC 110
Sunday afternoons aren't often reserved for fighting. Not so this weekend in Sydney, Australia, where the Ultimate Fighting Championship charges onto its fifth continent boasting the second quickest sellout in its history.
If anything can be gleaned from 16,500 tickets getting scooped up the day they went on sale, it's that Australians -- who rank only behind the
Namely, Zuffa's entry into the market.
While Australian MMA has quietly gone about its business for more than a decade, it took UFC barnstorming in Sydney to grab public attention and move the media from tired storylines about caged, bloodthirsty killers to discussion of skilled athletes competing on a metaphorical high-wire.
How important an occasion is UFC 110 for Oceanian MMA?
Not only does the event represent an attitudinal sea change among casual audiences and opinion makers, its live telecast on One -- Australia's only 24-hour free-to-air sports network -- equates to a deluge of exposure after years of drip, drip, dripping into the public consciousness.
Kicking off a busy stretch that finally gets ranked heavyweights back in action, UFC 110 (10 p.m. ET, UFC PPV) positions an all-time great against a prospect widely regarded as one of MMA's best.
Which man wins the evening's main event could depend heavily on how
If the 33-year-old Nogueira stays light on his feet, if he boxes, then Velasquez (7-0) should learn plenty about himself as a fighter. In front of him would be a submission icon stepping in tune with snapping jabs and crisp hand combinations. Nogueira doesn't carry a ton of power but he lands enough shots that hurt, which could bring Velasquez's sturdy chin into play.
However, if Nogueira moves like he's fighting on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, if all the plyometric and athletic training hasn't paid off, Velasquez's high-pressure style, which competently weaves wrestling with striking, should allow him to at least control his way to a decision. Stopping Nogueira would require an impressive effort. For it to happen Velasquez would likely be in the top position, where he could land blows during transitions or play a riskier ground-and-pound game inside Nogueira's fabled guard.
The 27-year-old Velasquez, a valuable chip for Zuffa considering his in-cage upside and Mexican-American heritage, looked good in stopping
For the man on the other side of the cage, a former Pride champion widely recognized as the second-best heavyweight of his era behind
• Nogueira feels like a risky pick because of lingering questions over his health, but I feel comfortable going with his experience in the main event.
• Don't be surprised if
• Like Wanderlei Silva, it's almost impossible to know what
• Sinosic's rematch with Haseman (20-16) harkens back to a time when submission via "chin to the eye" was an acceptable outcome. The UFC 110 undercard bout marks the first all-Australian effort in the Octagon, and provides Sinosic (8-11-2) the chance to avenge a 1997 loss in the semifinals of a 16-man same-day tournament in Sydney. Haseman, twice, won by "chin to the eye" before
• Fighter most in need of a win:
• To accommodate the traditional pay-per-view start time in the U.S. (10 p.m. ET), UFC is promoting the live event at 2 p.m. Sunday in Sydney, which is 16 hours ahead of New York. As previously mentioned, UFC 110 was the second-fastest sellout in UFC history. Top honors belong to UFC 83 in Montreal, which was a madhouse as over 21,000 fans packed into the Bell Centre to watch their favorite son,
• Quick picks on the undercard: Haseman def. Sinosic; Soszynski def. Bonnar;