The youth of Cain Velasquez against the experience of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is the main theme the UFC is using to promote the main event at UFC 110, and in this promotional video, Velasquez makes an interesting comment about where Nogueira fits in among the opponents he's faced in his relatively brief MMA career.
"He's just another guy up on the ladder that I need to fight to get where I want to be," Velasquez said of Nogueira.
I know Velasquez didn't mean any disrespect to Nogueira with that comment, but it's worth pointing out that Nogueira is quite a bit more than "just another guy" in Velasquez's career. In reality, Nogueira represents an enormous step up in quality of competition from the opponents Velasquez has fought in the past.
Velasquez is 7-0 in his MMA career, but he hasn't faced anyone who has even close to the tools that Nogueira has. Velasquez's best opponent to date was Cheick Kongo. Give Velasquez credit for winning a unanimous decision in that fight, but Kongo's rudimentary ground game was tailor made for Velasquez to take him down and dominate him on the ground. Nogueira, on the other hand, may have the best ground game of any heavyweight in MMA history.
None of this is to say Velasquez can't beat Nogueira. He's one of the most athletic, most talented heavyweights in the sport, and he's capable of beating anyone.
But Nogueira says it best about what Velasquez should be prepared for on February 20: "He's for sure going to have a harder time," Nogueira says, "than he had against his last opponents."