He hasn't taken that big fight yet, but I think we can all agree that Brendan Schaub is turning into quite the heavyweight prospect. Looking at the progress of his career, I can't help but compare it to current UFC champ Cain Velasquez. Its not a 100% the same, their backgrounds are not similar - Velasquez came from wrestling while Schaub was a football player who made it to the NFL. But I'm placing Schaub at the same point in his career where Velasquez was before the Minotauro Nogueira fight at UFC 110. Lets compare:
Pre-UFC: Velasquez: 2-0, Schaub: 4-0
Cain's fights prior to UFC 110: W- Brad Morris, W-Jake O'Brien, W-Denis Stojnic, W-Cheick Kongo, W-Ben Rothwell
Its strikingly similar in overall in quality of competition. The only difference is Schaub was on the Ultimate Fighter and lost to Roy Nelson. Schaub's might arguably be better, because Cain had nobody in his build-up to a title fight as good as Nelson.
And while Vealsquez is a high-level wrestler, he's largely stayed on his feet, as does Schaub who is really turning into a serious striker. Of those fights listed above, Cain won all but one by TKO or KO (4/5); while Schaub has TKO or KO'd his way to three of his four wins in the UFC.
I think Brendan Schaub is a serious player in the UFC heavyweight division and new he needs a big fish to prove himself. He doesn't have the hype that Cain did at this point in his career but if Brendan Schaub finishes someone liek Frank Mir (if Mir gets past Nelson, no sure thing), can Brendan Schaub make a claim to a UFC heavyweight title shot?
Let's breakdown the division: Cain Velasquez is obviously the Champion, and at UFC 131 it will be Junior Dos Santos and Brock Lesnar looking to claim the #1 contendership, and the Cain vs. Lesnar/Dos Santos fight should happen in the fall. Meanwhile, Frank Mir takes on Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin has a fight on the same card as Lesnar/Junior. Stefan Struve could be a possibility after his Travis Browne fight at UFC 130. But timing wise, it really just leaves Minotauro Nogueira open for a fight with Schaub, and some have speculated it might be at UFC:Rio in August. Of course, Nogueira's last fight was . . . UFC 110 against Cain Velasquez!
Am I wrong to think so highly of Schaub? He obviously needs to prove what Cain did already by demolishing both Nogueira and Lesnar, two very different fighters, in the same way. He trains with a top team (Grudge in Denver), is nearing his physical prime at 28, and has a good movement in the cage and, clearly, incredible power in his hands, and has banged with some big boys like Gonzaga and Gormley.
Again, before some might wage war on this comparison, I am simply saying I think Schaub is where Cain before his breakthrough at UFC 110. I believe he can launch forward like Velasquez did. Do you?