Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira got a big boost over the weekend by defeating highly-touted young prospect Brendan Schaub via emphatic first round knockout.
Though questions of his overall physical condition still linger following his quick win over Schaub, Big Nog upped his stock considerably and proved without a doubt that he still possesses the hunger and motivation to compete with the heavyweight division’s best. His next bout will go a long way in determining whether or not the hard-nosed 35-year-old really has another run at the title left in him.
Having just fought for a very supportive hometown crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Big Nog is looking to perform in front of another audience on his side in Japan. Nogueira made his bones on the Pride circuit during that promotion’s heyday and garnered a legion of Japanese fans for his legendary showings of heart and determination. With rumors of a UFC show taking place in the country sometime in February, Nogueira told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he would be thrilled to appear on that card — and if that doesn’t pan out, he’s happy to perform for the rabid MMA fans in Canada after seeing the turn out for UFC 129 in Toronto.
“I’d love to fight on that card in February,” said Minotauro of the rumored Japanese show. “There’s two countries where I’d like to fight: I’d like to fight over there in Japan for sure, I’d like to fight in Canada too. I went to the fight, you know, they had in the arena with 50,000-55,000 people — it was crazy. The Canadian people, they love it. … I like the country. … But, Japan to me means a lot. That was the beginning of my career, my prime time and I’d love to fight for the Japanese fans.”
While he’s planning his future, Nogueira already has two opponents in mind that he’d like to face more than the rest: former UFC heavyweight champions Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, the latter of whom he lost to in 2008.
“I’d like to fight Frank Mir,” he said when asked who he’d like to face next. “I lost the fight. He’s a tough opponent; he’s a good guy. I’d like to fight him. I’d like to fight Brock Lesnar too. Two big guys; it’s gonna be a good step in my career.”
Future plans aside, Nogueira is currently and rightfully savoring his career-salvaging win over Brendan Schaub, which he earned in front of scores of his fellow Brazilians. The victory improved his record to 33-6-1 and vaulted him back to relevancy in the UFC’s heavyweight division.