Mixed martial arts legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been out of action since suffering a first round knockout at the hands of current UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez at UFC 110 back in February of 2010.
Since then, the former Pride FC champ has undergone two knee surgeries as well as a surgery on his hip, to correct some long-nagging injuries. His recovery from the extensive procedures has kept him out of action since that loss to Velasquez, but he is now gearing up to return to the cage against surging young prospect Brendan Schaub at this summer’s landmark UFC event, UFC: Rio.
Though he has been on the sidelines for over a year, Big Nog’s protege Junior dos Santos recently made the comment that he believes his mentor needs more time to get back in shape and many have echoed that sentiment. Speaking with Brazilian news source Dentro da Arena (props to FightersOnly.com), Nogueira addressed his student’s concerns and assured that he is fully ready to take on Schaub.
“I have to disagree with Junior,” said the 35-year-old. “I am a professional fighter and make my living fighting. The injuries were messing with me for a long time and I decided to go under the knife to get healed from the setbacks. My recovery was very good and the doctors and my physical therapist gave me the guarantee that I could perform.
“I am 100 percent recovered. Some moves that previously bothered me don’t mess me up anymore. The chance to fight in Rio was unique and I accepted to fight in Brazil immediately… I think it is still early to speak about retirement.
“Regardless of victory or loss, I believe I want to fight for five years and so I don’t even begin to think about quitting.”
UFC: Rio goes down this August 27 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be the UFC’s first trip back to Brazil since 1998.