When he finished Luiz Cane in less than a round in his UFC debut Antonio Rogerio Nogueira served notice that he was a force to be reckoned with in the light-heavyweight division, but he found the going much tougher against Jason Brilz.
Things started out well for Lil Nog as he caught Brilz with some solid knees to the breadbasket as he attempted to move in to take the fight to the floor. His luck changed though when he managed to catch one of Rogerio’s kicks and took him down. Brilz showed good control on the ground, but while many would have been trapped on their back for the rest of their round, Nogueira’s world class BJJ allowed him to sweep Brilz. As quickly as he escaped he found himself back on the mat again though and had to work the same move to get back to his feet before the round ended.
In the second round things got even better for Brilz, who had taken the fight on short notice after Forrest Griffin pulled out injured, as he again took Nogueira down and caught him in a tight guillotine choke. Lil Nog’s grappling again came to his aid, but shaking off the tenacious Brilz’s hold proved difficult and it took several sweeps and positional changes before he finally broke free.
The prolonged exchange on the ground had noticeably effected both fighters gas tank, but towards the end of the round they threw leather and Brilz landed a clean shot which appeared to wobble Nogueira who spent the remainder of the round in reverse gear.
Nogueira appeared to have regained his composure as the final round got underway. Again Brilz takes him down, but he’s running low on gas and Lil Nog has little difficulty sweeping him yet again. Brilz is running dangerously close to exhaustion now and each takedown attempt becomes less successful than the last one and allows Nogueira to utilize more of his BJJ as he looks for a D’Arce choke, and later is briefly successful in securing a crucifix. Brilz survives though and makes it to the end of the round, with Nogueira on top throwing some ground and pound.
It’s a better round for Rogerio, but it seems as if Brilz has done enough in the previous two to produce the second major upset of the night. The judges have other ideas though and Nogueira is awarded a split decision victory, a result that is met with disbelief from Brilz camp, some surprise from Nogueira’s, and a chorus of boos from those in the crowd.
Despite the controversial loss Brilz has much to be proud of with his performance, and certainly made the most of his moment in the spotlight.
As for Rogerio, he’s now 2-0 in the UFC, but it’s not the performance he would have wanted, and shows that he’s still got work to do if he wants to achieve his ambition of getting a rematch with current light-heavyweight champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.