USA TODAY: Ex-UFC champ 'Big Nog' focused on final title run, not retirement


antonio-rodrigo-nogueira-7.jpg(This story appeared in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

FORTALEZA, Brazil – At 37 and with more than 40 professional fights to his name, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is surely on the tail end of one of the most impressive heavyweight careers in MMA history.

But “Big Nog” isn’t thinking about hanging up the gloves just yet. In fact, he thinks there may be one more title run left in his future.

“I’m not quitting yet,” Nogueira told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “You guys always want to put me out of the game, but I’m hungry.”

Nogueira (34-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) meet in Saturday’s UFC on Fuel TV 10 main event, which takes place at Paulo Sarasate Arena. The main card airs on FUEL TV (8 p.m. ET) following prelims on Facebook (4:45 p.m. ET).

Werdum is ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA heavyweight rankings. Nogueira, despite recent injuries and inactivity, sits at No. 11.

The main event serves as a rematch of the pair’s 2006 original encounter, in which Nogueira earned a unanimous-decision win in the now-defunct PRIDE promotion. While the previous victory may ultimately provide Nogueira with an extra dose of confidence heading into the rematch, the 14-year vet knows things have changed.

“Fabricio Werdum is totally different from the last fight,” he said. “He improved a lot. We grappled in our first fight, and I felt his strength. That doesn’t change. But I think before he was more like a jiu-jitsu guy. Now he’s a complete fighter. It’s going to be a new fight.”

Nogueira is 3-2 in his past five fights, but his two most dynamic wins — stoppages against Dave Herman and Brendan Scahub — took place on Brazilian soil. Saturday’s card marks the first UFC event in the country’s northeast region, an area Nogueira once called home.

“It’s always great to fight in Brazil, especially northeast Brazil,” Nogueira said. “There are a lot of tough people here. It’s a tough part of the country, to fight here is amazing for me. It’s like fighting for the first time.

“When you see the crowd, they move you. That’s what we need. That’s what we’re looking for: motivation. I have good motivation.”

Werdum, a 3-1 favorite according to oddsmakers, believes an impressive win could put him in line for a shot at the heavyweight title after current champ Cain Velasquez faces top challenger Junior dos Santos later this year. Nogueira hasn’t been promised such a prize but thinks an inspired performance in front of what’s bound to be a friendly crowd could force UFC officials to view him as a legitimate contender.

“Right now, I’m thinking about each step, especially about this fight,” Nogueira, a former interim titleholder, said. “What’s Fabricio Werdum thinking? That he’s going to have an easy fight? Not at all. I’m going to give my best in this fight.

“I’m thinking about this fight, especially, but if I got a chance to fight for the title, why not?

“I’m good. I’m fast. I’ve got skills enough to do it. I’ve been one of the best heavyweights in the world for the past 12 years.”

In the night’s co-feature, welterweight Leonardo Santos (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets undefeated 21-year-old William Macario (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the final bout of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2? tournament. Like the long-running U.S. version of the reality-show/competition series, the tournament winner is awarded a six-figure UFC contract.

For the latest on UFC on FUEL TV 10, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 5 days ago
  • 1 views

BRASILIA, Brazil – Prior to today’s UFC Fight Night 51 fighter weigh-ins, you can watch a live video stream of the UFC Fight Club Q&A session with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at 2 read news >>

  • 2 days ago
  • 4 views

NEW YORK/PORTLAND, Ore -- Today adidas Combat Sports USA announces a title sponsorship with Friday Night Fights, the longest running Muay Thai show in North America. Friday Night Fights holds numerou read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 3 views

After a UFC-less stretch on the MMA calendar, the organization returned this past weekend, and Ryan Bader was the star of UFC Fight Night 47.Filed under: Bellator, MMA Rankings, News, UFC, WSOF read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 2 views

Although the loss of a planned title fight between champ Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier hurt next month’s UFC 178 card, the lineup clearly has some depth.Filed under: MMA Rumors, News, UFC read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 3 views

All 16 fighters taking part in Friday’s Cage Warriors 71 event today successfully made weight for the show.Filed under: Cage Warriors, News read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 13 views

Former WEC lightweight champion and UFC lightweight title contender, Hermes Franca is restarting his life in Brazil. The MMA fighter was sentenced to 42 months in U.S. prison after pleading guilty to read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 2 views

Eddie Alvarez isn’t the only former Bellator MMA champ who will have a new home his next time out. The promotion has cut ties with 13 fighters, including former champion Attila Vegh and former title read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

Following the UFC’s doubleheader weekend, Tyron Woodley emerged as one of the big winners and took a leap in this week’s USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings.Filed under: Bellator, MM read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 3 views

Koji Oishi will seek to cement his place atop the ONE FC 145-pound weight class when he defends his title on Aug. 29 in Dubai, against veteran Jadamba Narantungalag. read news >>

Jump to: