'Minotauro' Believes Camp More Focused for Mir Rematch


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira expects to fare better in his rematch with Frank Mir. | Photo: Sherdog.com


The first time Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira stepped into the Octagon with Frank Mir, things didn't turn out so well.

The 40-fight veteran suffered a technical knockout defeat to the Las Vegas native at UFC 92, succumbing to Mir's improved standup in the second round. Powerful left hooks spelled the end of the night for "Minotauro" and gave Mir the interim heavyweight crown in December 2008.

The two men will square off again at UFC 140 on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Nogueira expects a different result for the rematch, in part because he believes that his current training camp has been more focused. When they last fought, both men were only a few months removed from coaching stints on Season 8 of "The Ultimate Fighter."

"For the last fight (against Mir), we had more distractions, and we'd just finished the show a couple months before in Vegas. It was hard to train over there," Nogueira said during a UFC conference call. "When I came to Brazil, I didn't feel like the camp was really good. I feel more explosive and more confident now. I'm more focused on what I'm doing, and I've got my sparring partners and been able to train the way that I wanted."

The former Pride heavyweight champion is coming off a career-rejuvenating win against Brendan Schaub at UFC 134. Billed as a heavy underdog against the up-and-coming Grudge Training Center prospect, Nogueira was able to absorb Schaub's punches early and knocked his opponent out with a short left hand midway through the first round in front of his countrymen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Making the victory even more meaningful was the fact that it was his first fight since multiple surgeries shelved him for 18 months.

It has been a memorable stretch for Brazilians in the UFC overall. The country has produced three current champions -- Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Junior dos Santos -- and will look to add a fourth when Lyoto Machida challenges light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones in UFC 140's main event.

Nogueira, a former UFC interim heavyweight champion himself, is proud of what his cohorts have accomplished.

"For Junior's fight (versus Cain Velasquez) we had over 60 million people watching on TV for the heavyweight title. It's a great time for the second sport in Brazil," he said. "We are all supporting the sport and we do our best as Brazilian fighters."

With a win on Saturday, Nogueira could insert himself back into the title discussion at heavyweight. "I know Frank's improved since the last time I fought him, but I'm in shape. I'm ready to go, and I'm excited to fight," he said.

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