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
"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."
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
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.