Antonio Rogerio Nogueira headlines his first UFC event on Saturday against Phil Davis at the Key Arena in Seattle.
“It’s definitely a great moment in my career. I’m very honored to be fighting in the main fight of a UFC card and it’s a big step for me,” said Nogueira on Monday.
Nogueira was originally scheduled to face Tito Ortiz on the March 26 card, but an injury forced Ortiz out of the bout. Davis was named as Ortiz’ replacement, and the opponent change didn’t change much in Nogueira’s preparation.
“I was already far into my training camp for Tito, but when Tito backed out, you know, I was going to face and wrestle with Tito and then he – and then facing Phil Davis. So, you know, the training doesn’t change that much,” said Nogueira.
Some have questioned whether Davis is a tougher match up than Ortiz, but Nogueira thinks Ortiz and Davis are equally challenging.
“This fight is just as tough as it would have been with Tito. Any fight is a tough fight,” said the Brazilian. “They’re about at the same level right now in the division.”
Nogueira and Davis briefly worked together at one time.
“Yes, we trained not too long ago and I thought he was a very tough guy. He’s very strong in wrestling, very strong ground skills. So, yes, he was overall a pretty strong fighter,” said Nogueira. “I feel that he’s a really strong wrestler and that’s something I had to work on in the training.”
Wrestling is going to be key for Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 24 against Davis, and he’s dedicated himself to improve that aspect of his game.
“I’ve been working a lot. I’ve been dedicating myself to wrestling in the past year or so. And I feel that I have improved a lot and I’ve been working a lot on it to face all these wrestling opponents. And I feel that I really jumped ahead in my wrestling.”