It has been nearly eleven months since the last time Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira stepped into the Octagon and, according “Minotauro” himself, it’s likely he won’t do so again for at least another nine if not longer. Known as much for his ability to overcome damage as his world-class grappling, the MMA legend has dealt with a number of medical issues over the past several years and recently decided to allow his body to heal completely before undergoing the rigors of returning to the ring.
“I’m doing my third surgery within a month,” the popular Brazilian explained in a conversation with Tatame. “There were three injuries that I had: my knee, my right hip and my left hip. I have these injuries for eight years, but about three years ago it started blocking me from training hard. I handled it, but I couldn’t do my last fight and really, if you can’t train 100%, you won’t do a good fight. I did these surgeries on the right time and I’m treating myself with the greatest hip doctor of the world…the guy guarantees I’ll be 100% for the second (part of the year).”
Nogueira was knocked out by heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez in February 2010 at UFC 110 after having outpointed Randy Couture in his previous bout.
As far as a specific show, or even an opponent, for his return to action the PRIDE icon expressed his interest in competing at the UFC’s upcoming event in Rio de Janeiro but wasn’t sure if he’d be completely recovered in time for the Fall 2011 card.
And, while he didn’t mention having anyone in particular on his mind, Nogueira showed interest in possibly facing Brock Lesnar one day, saying, “(Junior dos Santos) will fight Lesnar now, but he’s a guy I’ve always wanted to confront and it’d be a great fight. I enjoy fighting big guys. I think it forces me to use my speed and my guard…I’ve always been interested on fighting bigger guys.”
In closing, Nogueira made it clear he may have made his name in the past by taking on the world’s cream of the heavyweight crop but that fans shouldn’t write him off because of his recent 1-2 record. “I’ve fought the best of my division. I didn’t have an easy opponent. I really am one of the guys who fought great guys, but I have much more to show you, I am not done yet.”
“Minotauro” is 32-6-1 in his career with wins over a number of top opponents including Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Mark Coleman in their prime, as well as Couture, Dan Henderson, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, and Fabricio Werdum. Twenty of the submission-specialist’s wins have come by way of tapout.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC