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Brendan Schaub preps for career opportunity

October 14, 2010 | 10:00 am

Ufclogo Earlier this year, Colorado native and Ultimate Fighter finalist Brendan Schaub was just another UFC heavyweight prospect. Schaub's first post-TUF opponent was relative unknown Chase Gormley in the third contest of an 11-bout card. A loss and Schaub could have found himself out of UFC altogether.

Seven months later, Schaub finds himself in an entirely different position. Schaub dispatched Gormley and his next opponent, Chris Tuchscherer, in a mere 114 seconds and grabbed the eye of key UFC decision-makers. Schaub was rewarded with a live pay-per-view fight against highly regarded former heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 121 Oct. 23 in Anaheim. For Schaub, it represents a golden opportunity.

"I was hoping for a big-name opponent," Schaub says. "I wanted more upper-echelon guys and I got it in Gabriel Gonzaga. It shows that the UFC sees signs of greatness in me. To put me in the pay-per-view portion of one of the five biggest pay-per-views of all time is a big deal. The way to show my appreciation is to put on a show."

Schaub has done exactly that throughout his young MMA career, showcasing speed and precision rare for a fighter of his size. Every fight of his career has ended via knockout or submission and only once has one of his fights gone past the first round (a second-round TKO win over Jon Madsen on the Ultimate Fighter).

It's the sort of streak that can be both a blessing and a curse. Schaub's training partner Shane Carwin had a similar streak of finishes but badly gassed in the second round of his UFC 116 title fight with Brock Lesnar. Schaub's youth, athleticism and compact physique don't suggest he will struggle later in a fight, but experience in longer fights is a benefit in and of itself.

"Everyone wants a quick knockout or fast submission but at the same time I need some experience," Schaub notes. "Chris Tuchscherer is as tough as they come. He was 18-2 and had only been knocked out once. I was expecting a war into the second or third. You don't plan knockouts; they just happen. With Gonzaga I don't expect a fast one. I'm hoping to be able to show my hard work, my gas tank, and all the things I work on."

Schaub is no stranger to Gonzaga. Carwin, Schaub's main training partner, fought Gonzaga last year. In the preparation for that bout, Schaub mimicked Gonzaga to help prepare Carwin. Schaub studied videotape of Gonzaga and learned his tendencies. Now Schaub will have the opportunity to put those observations to use.

Gonzaga can be a tricky opponent because of his well-rounded skills. He has top flight jiu jitsu skills but also a powerful standup game that he frequently puts to use. It remains to be seen whether Gonzaga will be looking to take the fight to the ground.

"I'm not expecting anything," Schaub says. "I'm going to go out and enforce my game plan. I'm not too concerned with what he is doing. When you apply a lot of pressure it opens up a takedown opportunity. I just go out there and react. The game plan is in the back of my mind but I relax and do my thing."

If Schaub can defeat Gonzaga, even bigger things could be in store for him in the future. Only MMA superstars Randy Couture, Fabricio Werdum, Junior Dos Santos and Carwin have accomplished that task. At UFC 121, Schaub faces a potential career-making -- or breaking -- fight.

--Todd Martin

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