Over the weekend, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fought for the first time in his native country of Brazil, winning by submission over Dion Staring. It's the fifth straight victory for the smaller of the Nogueira brothers. He rarely gets mentioned as a top Light Heavyweight, but maybe it's time he gets some respect. He's lost three times in 20 fights and two were by decision (Shogun, Matyushenko). The other was a 23 second knockout loss to Sokoudjou. The Sokoudjou loss is inexcuseable, but the other two are solid. Even the Sokoudjou loss could be given the Liddell logic of "He just got caught."
In 05-06 he defeated Alistair Overeem twice and Dan Henderson, which are his biggest wins to date. The Henderson submission win was especially impressive because in 2005 he was a tank. 09 UFC Hendo is a photocopy of a shadow of 05 Henderson. The death of Pride hurt Nogueira's ascent to the top of the Light Heavyweights. Since then he hasn't faced the same level of competition.
At this point I'd place him firmly in the Top Ten. He's a big win away from being in the same conversation with Evans, Machida, Rampage. I'd like to say I'm confident Affliction will find him a quality opponent for their summer show. However, the last two Affliction shows he's been relegated to the preliminary card. My guess is we'll see him facing Sokoudjou whenever Affliction decides to book their next event. Although we can all hope for Gegard Mousasi. That fight would make even the most hardened MMA fan pee a little in his TapouT parachute pants.