Big Nog Refreshed, Healthy And Ready For Frank Mir

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Nogueira happy with Schaub win, but ready for revenge against Mir

To say that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s win over Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 was important to him would be quite the understatement.

“The win over Schaub means a lot to me. The fight was in Brazil, in front of my home country, so it is very important to me in my career. I was just coming off surgeries on my ACL and hip and it was a great comeback for me. My body felt great going into the fight and that was a big question for me, because I was injured for what I feel could have been the best three years of my career. I couldn’t perform like I wanted to because of the injuries I had.

“My hip was tight. My knee wasn’t stable. Now those things are gone and that means a lot to my career. I have my mobility back and my head movement is good. My boxing is coming back and my ground game is better than ever. I wasn’t able to use it in my last fight, but that is just how the fight went. I feel like I can compete with anyone in the UFC and I’m ready to be on top of the heavyweight division again.”

The former Pride and UFC champion silenced some of his critics with the impressive performance, and after being away from the Octagon for two years, it appears that “Big Nog” is back and better than ever.

“They always count me out. I’ve only had two bad fights in my entire career, but somehow I’m always getting looked over. The first time I fought Frank Mir I was in bad shape. There were a lot of issues with my training camp and he was a good, strong fighter. I’ve had a lot of big wins in my career but that doesn’t matter after one loss. People don’t want to give you credit for the things you have accomplished.”

“After the loss to Mir, I came back and defeated Randy Couture then I had another bad fight against a guy who is killing everyone right now in Cain Velasquez. He’s not an easy fight. Some guys in the media, even in Brazil, were saying that I should retire. I’m in good shape and I’m feeling great right now, so winning in Brazil felt good because it gives me the chance to shut some people up. It sucks when people don’t believe in you but all you can do is go out there and do your best.”

Following the win over Schaub, the UFC wasted no time in booking Nogueira’s next opponent. At UFC 140 in Toronto, he will get his chance at redemption against Frank Mir. Their first fight was a one-sided affair with Mir becoming the first man to ever finish Nogueira and “Minotauro” believes things will be much different a second time around.

“I know I can do way better than the first time we fought. He is a good opponent, strong and has good hands. He is one of the top guys in the division and he is a former champion. He is really good, but I know I can do better this time and it’s going to show. I’m not going to say I’m to “kill him” or anything like that because he is a good guy. I’m going to do my best and the results this time around are going to be different.”

With the Mir fight on the horizon, Nogueira’s immediate focus is preparing his protégé and close friend Junior “Cigano” dos Santos for his upcoming title fight with Cain Velasquez.

“These guys are my family, man. Junior has been with me since he was 22 years old and I’ve known the guy since he was a white belt in jiu-jitsu. We are going to give him his black belt before his fight coming up. It’s been great to learn from each other. He has helped me with my boxing and that is all our team does – we help one another get better. We miss holidays to help each other in training camps and we do that because we are a family. We are never going to fight each other. When Junior wins the title, I will be happy for him. I will be happy for him to be the champion and happy that we have all helped each other. We are a big family.”