Heavyweight MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira was recently forced to pull out of a bout with Frank Mir, scheduled to go down tonight at UFC 119, with a nasty knee injury. “Minotauro” still flew to Indianapolis (the site of UFC 119), however, in order to corner his brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. While there, Rodrigo spoke with MMAFighting.com and discussed the nature of his knee injury and offered a timetable for his return: 5-6 months at the earliest.
“I went to the doctor, I had like six doctors in front of me,” said “Big Nog.” “My knee was out of place. I decided if I fight, I have to be 100 percent. I had the same injury last time I fought Mir. It’s kind of an excuse if I lose the fight, so I want to be 100 percent so I can do my best in the cage.”
A veteran of the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships, Nogueira revealed that he sees a bit of the old days reflected in the current state of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
“The heavyweight division reminds me of the old times in PRIDE,” Nogueira said. “A lot of good fighters at the same time. And I see the UFC even better right now. Truly like six names could be the champ, and they’re going to fight for it. I’m very excited to be in that weight division with all the best heavyweights at the same time.”
The last time Nogueira competed, he was stopped quickly and succinctly by up-and-comer Cain Velasquez, who scored a first round knockout over the former PRIDE champion at UFC 109 in Sydney, Australia. Now, Velasquez is set to face UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and “Big Nog” sees the belt changing hands after they meet.
“I think Brock’s got the advantage with his size, but Cain Velasquez is a more complete fighter,” he said. “He can kick, he can punch and can use his wrestling. I think he’s a better wrestler than Brock Lesnar. I think his ground game will be the difference in this fight. I think, my prediction is that Cain Velasquez is going to win the title.”