Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira extends return timetable, but wants Nelson, Barnett or Werdum


antonio-rodrigo-nogueira-16.jpgAntonio Rodrigo Nogueira remains interested in a fight with popular heavyweight Roy Nelson, but needs more time to recover from an injury sustained in his previous fight.

“If it’s [Nelson], I think it will be a good fight because the guy is tough,” Nogueira (34-8-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC) on Friday told MMAjunkie Radio. “(He’s) the kind of guy I like to fight.”

This past month, Nogueira first expressed interest in fighting Nelson (19-9 MMA, 6-5 UFC), who’s lost two straight in fights against Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.

Nogueira’s arm is on the mend after he strained a ligament in his arm during a fight in June with Fabricio Werdum in June. Werdum won the bout via second-round submission.

Since winning the UFC interim title in 2008, Nogueira has hopscotched between wins and losses over seven bouts, and injury layoffs have been more frequent.

The former champ in 2011 underwent surgery to correct both of his bad hips, and was benched for much of 2012 after Frank Mir broke his arm at UFC 140.

Nogueira said his current injury affects his ability to balance himself with his arm, and his limb swells with too much activity. Hence, he’s targeting a return in late spring.

“[The UFC was] talking about returning in March, but I don’t feel ready to go yet,” Nogueira said. “I’m trying to push (the fight) to April or May.”

Although Nelson was never confirmed as an opponent, Nogueira said he is also open to a rematch with Werdum (17-5-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC), whom he defeated in 2006 under the now-defunct PRIDE banner. He also is game for a rematch with Josh Barnett (33-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC), with whom he split a pair of bouts later that year.

“I want to fight Werdum again,” said Nogueira. “I think he’s dangerous on the ground. But I think I can fight him better than the last time. Josh Barnett, he’s in a really good position right now. He’s the type of fighter I like to face.”

Nogueira initially suggested he’d like like to fight in the U.S., where family and friends reside and where he owns a gym in San Diego. But when informed that UFC fighters carry a huge statistical advantage while fighting on home turf, he quipped, “I would like to fight in Rio (de Janeiro).”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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