There's something about Brendan Schaub that rubs me the wrong way. It's nothing I can put my finger on - just the vague sense that Mr. Schaub, while a talented prospect, is entirely too confident for a fighter with his limited career accomplishments. Don't get me wrong or get things twisted. Confidence is a good thing in a fighter. Without it, there's almost no chance of survival. Ask Forrest Griffin, who seemed to look disinterested and terrified against "Shogun" Rua last night and paid the price.
But confidence is something you feel. It's internal, driving the greats to continued success. The best of the best don't tell you how amazing they are - at least that's not their first move. No, the first step is to show us. And that's something Schaub still hasn't done. He's spitting game that's on a different level than his performances deserve or allow.
Schaub's knockout loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was a reminder not all of MMA's old guard are ready to have their scalps collected. Schaub, the often dubbed 'Legend Killer', was looking to build his name off a string of fading veterans. Rodrigo showed Schaub, and the world, that some old lions still have sharp teeth.
Nogueira looked old, slow and helpless at UFC 134. After several surgeries and 40 career fights, the end looked like it was approaching fast. Instead, 'Big Nog' pulled off a miracle, snapping Schaub's head back with an uppercut and finishing him off with a flurry of punches.
For one night at least, the great champion was able to turn back the clock. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. No one exudes joy and class like the Nogueira brothers and their training partner Anderson Silva. Backstage at a UFC event, when everyone else seems like they are either angry, exhausted, or on their twelfth Red Bull, the Nogueiras always have an easy smile for everyone.
It would be nice to see him call it a career, ride off into the sunset with this last, final glorious win. Unfortunately, athletics isn't built for that ending. Fighters, and all athletes, tend to compete until someone drags them off the playing field. It will happen for Nogueira some day soon. At least it wasn't last night. The great star was allowed at least one final chance to shine.