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Breakdown: Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia will take on former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC interim heavyweight belt at UFC 81 on Saturday at Mandalay Bay. Here is what each man must do to win:

Keys to victory
1. Use his reach: Sylvia needs to keep Nogueira on the end of his punches, where he won't be able to go for a submission. 1. Confusion: When Sylvia expects Nogueira to punch, he should shoot. And when Sylvia is waiting for the shot, Nogueira should punch.

2. Knees: When Nogueira cuts the distance and gets to the clinch, Sylvia should make him pay with knees. 2. Circle to his right: Nogueira needs to move to his right to circle away from Sylvia's best weapon, his powerful right hand.

3. Scramble: Sylvia needs to scramble to his feet when taken down to offset Nogueira's edge in submissions. 3. Get him down: Sylvia is not a threat to Nogueira on his back and Nogueira can work his submission game.

Rating the fighters
A comparison of Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
on a rating of 1 to 10 in several categories:
Punching power 10 8 Sylvia has a thudding jab.
Wrestling 7 8 Nogueira doesn't have great takedowns, but Sylvia must stay up.
Knees/kicks 9 8 High kicks would be risky for Sylvia.
Ground and
8 8 Sylvia rarely fights on the ground.
Takedown defense 8 8 Nogueira needs to find a way to get Sylvia off his feet.
Chin 8 10 Nogueira has a legendarily solid chin.
Submissions 6 10 Nogueira is the master.
Stamina 10 8 Sylvia is used to 25 minutes; this is Nogueira's first 25-minute bout.
Strength 9 8 Shouldn't have a huge impact on the outcome.
Intangibles 9 10 Both have been on the big stage numerous times.

Total 84 86 Sylvia wins by keeping it a standup fight and Nogueira wins if they spend a lot of time on the ground. Count on Nogueira having difficulty getting Sylvia down and Sylvia coming out on top with a unanimous decision.

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