Since defeating Tim Sylvia to win the UFC heavyweight title in 2008, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has alternated between wins and losses in the division.
A masterful performance has been followed up with a tough loss every time for Nogueira, but after having his arm shattered by Frank Mir at UFC 140 last year, the Brazilian legend returned to form with his own submission victory over Dave Herman on Saturday night.
Following the win, the questions of retirement kept coming at Nogueira, but he says that he’s still got time left in fighting, and he wants to spend it gunning for the best fighters in the UFC heavyweight division.
“I want to fight top ten guys. I want to fight the top guys in the UFC,” Nogueira told Fuel TV after his win at UFC 153.
One goal Nogueira doesn’t have in mind right now is going on a hunt for the UFC heavyweight title again. That belt is currently owned by close friend and student Junior dos Santos, and he has no plans of ever facing him, now or in the future.
“I can’t ask for the belt because my buddy, my training partner, he’s kind of my brother, Junior dos Santos, I’m going to help him in the next two weeks in his camp to fight against Cain (Velasquez),” said Nogueira.
Nogueira may serve as a de facto “gatekeeper” to the heavyweight division’s elite, and that’s fine by him because even though he won’t be fighting for gold, he’ll still be facing the best of the best.
“I want to be in the top ten, fighting the best guys, at least helping the sport in Brazil and be over there between the best guys in the heavyweight division,” said Nogueira.
There are a number of possible fights for Nogueira in the heavyweight division, but it remains to be seen who he will get matched up with next.