Homeland Security

By Marcelo Alonso May 7, 2009
Considered one of the premier Brazilian mixed martial artists, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will throw MMA leather on his home soil for the first time in the Jungle Fight “Ceara” main event this Saturday at the Paulo Serasate Gymnasium in Fortaleza, Brazil.

“I’ve had 14 of my 19 fights in Japan,” Nogueira said. “Last year, I had the opportunity to box in the Pan American Championships in Rio [de Janeiro], and it was such an amazing experience. This Saturday, I’ll be able to fight for my people under my rules.”

Brazilian cable TV outlet Premiere Combat will carry the show on pay-per-view. Three months after he knocked out former International Fight League champion Vladimir Matyushenko at Affliction “Day of Reckoning,” Nogueira will take on Dion Staring, a Golden Glory teammate of Alistair and Valentijn Overeem, Sergei Kharitonov and Semmy Schilt.

“I’ve seen four of his fights,” Nogueira said. “He likes to combine low kicks and punches, has a strong right cross punch and a couple of knockouts on his resume. I think he deserves all my respect, but I’m very self confident and well-trained.”

The opportunity to fight in his homeland means a great deal to Nogueira (16-3), the 32-year-old twin brother of former Pride Fighting Championships and interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com

Saturday's fight will be
Rogerio's first in Brazil.
“I always dreamed of fighting in Brazil and mostly in the northeast, where I was born and have part of my family and friends,” Nogueira said. “It’s going to be a great dream for me.”

Nogueira leaned heavily on his brother in order to prepare for his bout with Staring (15-5), a 30-year-old Dutchman who will enter the match on a two-fight losing streak.

“My brother came from the United States to help me and beat me up,” he said with a smile, his brother shaking his head nearby.

The heavyweight Nogueira sees problems ahead for Staring.

“Rogério is in great shape -- good wrestling, striking and his ground is also very good,” he said. “He is really sharp and self confident for this fight coming in after two knockouts. I bet this fight will end in a knockout or submission.”

“Minotoro” also spoke positively about his relationship with Affliction.

“I’m very happy in Affliction; they are treating me fine, and this fight in Brazil will be very important to keep me in shape for my next fight there,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be on July 11 or Aug. 28, but I’ll be ready.”

One of the most popular fighters in Brazil, Nogueira continues to field questions about when fans might see him competing inside the UFC.

“People keep asking all the time about that, but Affliction made an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he said. “I think I made the correct choice. The UFC’s a great promotion, and it’s a dream for any fighter to fight there. At the moment, I’m close with Affliction and concentrating on winning their belt. In the future, who knows?”

Nogueira also addressed the criticism directed at his teammate, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, after his performance against Thales Leites in a five-round unanimous decision victory at UFC 97 last month. That followed what some saw as a lackluster effort against Patrick Cote at UFC 90.

“Actually, he’s had an amazing run, knocking out everybody in the first or second round, so people expect that from him,” Nogueira said. “The fans need to understand that the sport is evolving, and he’s fighting different opponents with different games. I liked Anderson in both fights. He was very tactical and clearly superior. If we look back, not even Mike Tyson at his best knocked out all his opponents. Anderson didn’t [tie or] break two records (nine straight UFC win and five straight title defenses) by accident.”
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