With UFC 156 coming up on Saturday, it seemed like a good time for another simulated fight. Since UFC Undisputed 3 doesn't allow for fighters to take on competition from other weight classes, I can't simulate Aldo vs. Edgar, but I figured the co-main event would do the job.
Rashad Evans is taking on Antônio Rogério Nogueira, and each of these guys is at a bit of a crossroads. Rashad is 4-1 in his last five, but he lost most recently to Jon Jones in a five-round decision. Nogueira hasn't fought since December 2011, and while he did last beat Tito Ortiz, he previously lost to both Phil Davis and Ryan Bader.
I set the CPU to do battle on Expert difficulty, as that seems to reduce the number of transitions. I also set the match on simulation since that seems to better replicate stamina and damage. The match was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center (as it will be on Saturday), and Herb Dean got the reffing assignment. Here... we... go.
Both fighters come out holding up their gloves and touch up. Lil' Nog wastes no time after that, landing a flush uppercut to Evans. Nogueira closes the distance and throws a combination that is blocked. Rashad hits a jab and then ends up missing a combination of his own. Nogueira whiffs on a punch, and Rashad counters with a hard left and goes right into a double-leg, but he doesn't get the takedown. Rashad throwing some jabs, which causes Lil' Nog to go for the takedown, which he doesn't get. Evans hits a massive double-leg, taking Lil' Nog to the mat. Nogueira sweeps Rashad, but Evans switches right back into full guard. Rashad throws some ground and pound, but it's blocked.
Lil' Nog reverses Rashad and ends up on top, and he's throwing some big shots. Rashad bucks him off and both men are standing. Evans is swinging wildly, and Nogueira connects with a counter shot. Nogueira tries for another combination, which is blocked, and Evans lands some shots of his own. While he's throwing a punch, Evans gets surprised by a Nogueira takedown. Lil' Nog moves quickly into side control. He lands a hard elbow to Rashad's head. Rashad kicks him off and goes into his guard, but Nogueira quickly slips out and grabs a headlock, landing some shots. Rashad bullies Nogueira from the sprawl position and ends up back in his guard. Evans isn't able to do much damage, and Nogueira kicks him off.
Once both men are back standing, Rashad lands a hard left hook, followed by a crushing right! Nogueira goes full stanky leg and crumbles to the mat. Rashad lands some hard shots, but eventually Lil' Nog catches a punch and holds on. Rashad is in half-guard. Lil' Nog bucks him off and then lands some decent strikes. Rashad pushes him off, and both men are back standing. Nogueira sinks in a body clinch to end the round. Man, it was definitely Lil' Nog's round until that hard shot, but I'm still going to say it's his.
Wigmore's Round Score: 10-9 Nogueira
Nogueira comes out throwing, landing a jab and a blocked right cross. Rashad goes for a quick double-leg, but Lil' Nog has a good sprawl. Nogueira locks in a body clinch and hits a massive suplex into side control. Rashad scrambles, but Lil' Nog ends up taking his back, with full hooks in. Nogueira is landing some shots. Rashad rolls over, and Nogueira is in full mount. Rashad bucks him off, but Nogueira grabs a headlock and sprawls. Evans doesn't wait around this time and takes him down. Nogueira instantly pushes him off, and both fighters are standing.
Rashad hits a big left hook, but Lil' Nog comes charging at him and hits a knee to the stomach. Now Nogueira is using a push kick to create distance. Left hook by Nogueira, followed by a right to the body. Nogueira grabs a body clinch again, but Rashad isn't sticking around and pummels for position. Rashad is landing short strikes while backing Lil' Nog up. Nogueira breaks the clinch and lands a short left on the exit. Rashad uses good head movement and lands a big left of his own. Both men with a high guard, blocking combinations. Nogueira lands another couple of lefts. Lil' Nog tries for a double-leg, but Rashad sprawls.
Both men using feints and head movement to avoid strikes, but Nogueira lands another hard right. He's definitely getting the better of these exchanges. Rashad with a weak leg kick that misses. Nogueira then whiffs on a three-punch combo. Nogueira with a leg kick, to which Rashad tries to counter with a takedown, but Lil' Nog sprawls. Some good counters by Rashad. Nogueira hits another left, but now Evans is landing some shots, in and out. He's hit about five of the now. Nogueira fires back with a couple of his own. Several body shots by Rashad. Leg kick by Nogueira, and then another hard left hook. Four-punch combination by Nogueira. Rashad with a two-punch combo to end the round. I'd say the suplex, takedown defense and superior striking got that round for Nogueira as well. He also took Rashad's back and had full mount in the middle of the round.
Wigmore Round Score: 10-9 Nogueira
Nogueira again out to the center of the Octagon, and he lands a hard right. Now he lands a left, and Rashad throws a quick jab and pushes him away. Another counter shot by Nogueira, and he has a body clinch again. Wow, a crazy judo throw by Rashad to get out of a bad situation, as Lil' Nog had double underhooks. Big elbow by Rashad. Now a left to the other side of the head. Nogueira hip escapes to half-guard. Rashad is landing some light ground and pound, but now Nogueira has moved to full guard. Rashad tries to pass, but it's not happening. Rashad postures up, but Nogueira catches his first strike. Evans moves to half-guard, but Nogueira quickly reverses and is in full guard on Evans.
Two massive shots by Nogueira, and Evans is grabbing his head to control posture. Rashad bucks Lil' Nog off, but Nogueira grabs a headlock again. Evans pulls guard. Nogueira back to side control. He lands a couple of shots. Rashad shakes him off and then grabs a headlock of his own. He hits Nogueira on the ear a couple of times and then partially takes his back from the side, landing shots. Nogueira rolls back over into full guard, with Evans on top. Evans gets into side control. Evans cannot pass to full mount, so he starts pounding Lil' Nog with elbows. Nogueira gets back to full guard, and he is holding on. Rashad back into side control. Once again, he cannot pass into full mount so he starts landing bomb elbows. Nogueira is hurt! Nogueira hanging on, and Rashad back into side control. He's landing knees to the body.
Rashad gets full mount, but he's quickly bucked off by Nogueira. Lil' Nog into side control, and he fakes an elbow in order to gain full mount. From the mount, Nogueira goes for a sick armbar, but he doesn't have it. He switches to a triangle, but he doesn't have that either. Rashad ends up in side control to finish the round. I'd say Rashad did enough to win the round, but what will the judges feel about that first round?
Wigmore's Round Score: 10-9 Evans
After three rounds, the winner by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Rashad Evans.
Yeah, so there you go. The “virtual judges” felt that Rashad's knockdown in the first was enough to give him that round, and his better positioning and ground and pound in the third was obviously the tipping point. Nogueira did really well in the second, and he probably would've won the fight had he not got popped late in the first round.
The stats were pretty even overall, as both men scored two takedowns, and each landed a similar number of strikes (64-56 for Evans). Nogueira did have more transitions and reversals, and he also had more dominant positions. At the same time, Rashad inflicted more head damage to Lil' Nog, and he also rocked him twice and scored that all-important knockdown.
I expect the real fight this Saturday will be a razor-thin decision as well, as each of these guys has a relatively diverse skill set and a good deal of experience.
Who do you have winning at UFC 156 tonight?