There’s an old saying in MMA that when you train with the best you either get better or die, and there is no third direction.

At Team Nogueira in Brazil on any given day the mats could be filled with names like Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, and of course the namesakes of the gym Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

For fighters like 7-0 undefeated prospect Wagner ‘Caldeirao’ Prado, training alongside legends is something he is honored to do on a daily basis.

Prado started fighting at the age of 19 when he was doing full contact Muay Thai, but within a few years the sport of MMA caught his eye and he couldn’t resist the challenge. At 22, Prado was fighting professionally in MMA and on the date of his debut, he ended up beating two fighters in a one night tournament.

It was right into the fire for the young Brazilian who then parlayed that opportunity into an appearance on the popular show Caldeirao do Huck, and that’s where he met his future coaches and training partners.

“I’m fortunate enough to train with my idols,” Prado told from Brazil. “Being side by side with them training is the best thing for me. Training with the best to become one of them.”

He’s quickly joining those ranks.

Thus far Prado has gone undefeated in seven fights with only one decision and six knockouts or TKO’s to his credit. For a young man that’s only been doing MMA for a few years, he’s certainly picking up on things quickly and his evolution has been nothing short of spectacular.

“I have evolved a lot in a short period of time, and have been winning along the way, but I know that I still have much more to learn and I am working hard for that,” said Prado. “Currently, besides my boxing, Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu practices I have been doing wrestling, which I didn’t do, and strength and conditioning, which is also new to me. I have had great results so the tendency is to improve!”

While Prado’s own improvement has continued to develop, he’s also watched the sport of MMA develop in his home country. Since the UFC has landed in Brazil, the country has MMA fever and the only cure is more fighting.

“The UFC made the sport of MMA the most talked about sport in Brazil. It’s overtaken soccer, which is the national sport. Wherever you go you see people wearing UFC shirts and hats, talking about the fights and the athletes. That’s excellent because we fighters are gaining the public’s respect. What was recently considered a bad sport due to its aggressiveness, today is being seen in a better light and how it should truly be seen,” Prado explained.

“This whole expansion has taken me by surprise, it’s been very fast. I can say that MMA and the UFC are in style in Brazil. ”

Not only are Brazilians watching the UFC, the UFC continues to watch the best young talent come out of Brazil and Prado’s name should be high on the list.

A devastating striker with knockout power in both hands and a rapidly improving ground game have made Prado an easy sell to audiences all over the world.

His next challenge will come on May 19 at Max Fight, but then if all goes well, Prado is hoping the UFC will be giving him a call.

“My biggest dream is to be the UFC light heavyweight champion of the world and thank God I’m on the right track, but I’ll go up one step at a time. I’m working toward achieving my goal and one day I’ll be there,” said Prado.

“Right now what I want is a decent purse and to perform well in my next fight, because I believe that with good performances there is no way not to reach my greater goal, which is to get into the UFC. I’ll just keep doing my best and waiting for my opportunity.”

Prado probably won’t have to wait very long because the UFC will likely be knocking on his door or calling his phone very soon.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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