If it sounds familiar, it’s because it was Tito Ortiz’s mantra following his career-saving win over Ryan Bader in July.
Following a similar path to The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, MMA veteran Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated a highly-touted young stud last night after a long, injury-induced and surgery-laden lay off to ward off retirement talks for the immediate future. Big Nog repeated the phrase following his win and spoke more in depth about it with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani post-fight.
“I’m back, you know? When I feel like some guys ask me in the interviews before the fight I was the underdog, I told you I like to be the underdog,” said the 35-year-old. “When people don’t believe in me, my energy comes inside. So I’m back.”
Fired up to be fighting at home for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nogueira came to the fight a man possessed. Facing off against Brendan Schaub, he got tagged with some heavy shots by the young knockout artist, but kept right on coming and eventually floored his opponent with a vicious right hand. The follow up shots sealed the deal and put Schaub away, giving Nogueira a much-needed victory. The PRIDE FC veteran knows that he still has work to do, but firmly believes that he is on the upswing.
“The fight was really tough. He threw me some good hands,” he said. “At moments in the fight, I felt his uppercuts. But I believe in myself, I know I could change and I’m back. I’m feeling good and now I feel I can put my skills on. I’ve gotta improve a little bit more of my wrestling… I’m back.”
Nogueira and Schaub met on the main card of UFC 134, which took place last night at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.