10 Questions for ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira

By Marcelo Alonso Jun 25, 2009
Ten years of fighting, four title belts, 31 wins and a couple of million dollars in his bank account. You might think it’s time for Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira to retire. The heavyweight legend says it’s not.

In the following interview, Nogueira discusses his recovery since losing to Frank Mir, his upcoming bout with Randy Couture and his thoughts on Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva and more.

Sherdog.com: You trained with Wanderlei in his gym in Vegas. What do you think about his decision to fight in a lighter division?
Nogueira: Wanderlei has always been (revered) in the 205 category, but I think he has a good opportunity to do great at 185. Actually, he started fighting in that division, so I think it will depend on his adaptation. He will be a little weaker, but his heart is the same. Wanderlei is a warrior, and I believe he will do great.

Sherdog.com: On June 16 you completed 10 years of your career. What have been your best and worst moments?
Nogueira: I had several good moments. I would say that my victory against Bob Sapp and Mirko were the two most significant moments. But the worst moment, of course, was my last fight, when I lost my belt.

Sherdog.com: What exactly happened to you before the fight and why didn’t you drop out?
Nogueira: I only drop out of a fight when it’s totally impossible to fight, when I cannot even walk. Anyone who trains with me knows how I am. I never decline a fight invitation. In this fight against Mir, I had a serious staphylococcus infection on my elbow 10 days before the fight and stayed almost five days in the hospital taking antibiotics. On the day I finally recovered and returned to training, three days before the flight, I had a serious knee injury (meniscus). Definitely I was not in good condition, but I don’t want to take anything from Mir. He was in great shape and very well prepared and did the right tactics, didn’t go to the ground, worked his right hand over mine and surprised me. But I’m sure I have the ability to fight better than I did, and against Couture I will make a much better presentation.

Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Nogueira hopes for a
better performance vs. Couture.
Sherdog.com: What have you done after fighting Mir to recover from your injuries?
Nogueira: I had knee surgery, but right after the surgery, I started doing some workouts. In the middle of March, I returned to the training routine. I want to reach August at 110 percent.

Sherdog.com: Does facing Couture provide special motivation for you?
Nogueira: For sure. Facing a top guy like Randy is just like facing Fedor, Cro Cop. Definitely he is a legend of our sport, and we will make a great fight. I will fight in the same weight that I fought in Pride. I will lose about 10 pounds. Lighter, I can move faster, have more gas and can work my game better, have quicker jiu-jitsu.

Sherdog.com: Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar, who takes it?
Nogueira: Frank is better on the ground, but Brock has developed a lot, is training a lot, but I don’t know. I think it’s 50-50.

Sherdog.com: What do you think about Fedor vs. Josh Barnett?
Nogueira: I think that is a great fight. Josh can handle many punches, has good boxing. It’s a tough fight for Fedor. Barnett can complicate the fight. He has a good submission game, but Fedor works better standing, is a better wrestler. So I see Fedor with an advantage, but I think that Josh can complicate things.

Sherdog.com: There are rumors saying that Fedor may fight in ADCC (submission wrestling). Who do you think would have a chance to beat him in MMA and ADCC?
Nogueira: There are a lot of guys who would beat him in ADCC. Roger Gracie, Jacaré, but I think Roger would have more chances because he works from the guard. Arona already had a huge fight with him. People from jiu-jitsu could beat him in ADCC, for sure. In MMA, I’d like to see him fight Lyoto, who’s a tough guy to catch and (has good footwork) in the ring. It would be an interesting fight to see, just like against Anderson. His last fight was difficult, but he found that punch at the right time. There are a lot of guys that could fight him. He’s blessed, aggressive, has great punches, positions at the right time.

Sherdog.com: Who has, nowadays, the best jiu-jitsu for MMA?
Nogueira: I really like Demian Maia’s. His jiu-jitsu is very technical. He’s a good fighter. Jacaré is also at the top in this category.

Sherdog.com: You are the only heavyweight in the world who won four belts (UFC, WEF, Pride and Rings). What is your motivation to keep fighting MMA?
Nogueira: I love challenges and I love fighting. I lost the UFC belt being far from my best, and now I want to return in my best shape and get this title back. Brazil already has two UFC belts, and I want to recover Brazilian dominance in MMA by bringing the third belt to Brazil. Also, I want to help turn MMA into the most popular sport in Brazil.
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