On paper, Brendan Schaub should be public enemy number one on the streets of Brazil (well, okay, number two behind Chael Sonnen).
The young heavyweight prospect is gearing up to face revered Brazilian MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira this weekend in Rio de Janeiro, just a mile from Minotauro’s gym at the HSBC Arena. Though he fully expected a hostile reception by the Brazilian fans as a result, Schaub has been surprised to find that Brazil has welcomed him with open arms.
“Yeah, not bad, not bad,” Schaub said to Ariel Helwani of the warm reception he received at the UFC 134 open workouts. “The anti-Chael Sonnen route is paying off for me. Man, I love it here. I embrace the culture and I think that they’re kind of doing the same. So, come Saturday night there’s going to be some boos, but no disrespect. There’s been no disrespect from them.”
During his stay in Brazil, Schaub has spent time visiting fans in the favelas (slums), an experience which he admits has given him perspective. During today’s pre-fight press conference, Schaub revealed plans to return to the favelas before he returns home with training gear donated by his sponsors to hand out to the young fans.
“I can’t think Dana White and the UFC enough for really giving me a reason to come out here and experience this,” he said. “People in the States take it for granted and you come out here and you see the way some of the kids are living in the favelas… it’s a rude awakening.”
Schaub may find that his warm welcome ceases abruptly on Saturday night when he makes his way to the cage to face Big Nog. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com for our live, ongoing coverage of the event.