Nogueira Maps Out ‘TUF’ Assignment

By Gleidson Venga May 15, 2008
Interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) says he will look to bring his style of fighting to the small screen when he and fellow heavyweight Frank Mir (Pictures) become coaches on the eighth season of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter," airing this fall.

"I'll try to do very well there, showing the techniques I know," Nogueira told Sherdog.com. "I hope to be able to spread the jiu-jitsu we practice in our gym to the American public."

Nogueira and Mir -- both accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts -- will lead a hungry pack of lightweight and light heavyweight hopefuls hunting down a contract with the UFC. To mold his team, "Minotauro" says he will count on a large staff of trainers hailing from both his native Brazil and the United States.

"Probably we will take Amaury Bitetti and Daniel Valverde for the grappling," Nogueira said. "I'll take a wrestling and boxing trainer from the USA, and the others will be from our team. We can invite trainers every week. Dragos Stanica, who is our trainer, will be helping us too, coordinating his part. I'll invite in a lot of the team staff, like my brother [Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pictures)], so that we can make good work."

Although he's fairly sure who his support staff will be for the six-week shoot in Las Vegas, the former Pride heavyweight champion said he had not yet been contacted about facing Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion himself, in his first title defense. Nogueira grasped the interim crown from former titleholder Tim Sylvia (Pictures) with a third-round submission at UFC 81 last February in Las Vegas.

"Nobody's said anything about it yet," said Nogueira, though a Spike TV news release issued Monday stated that Nogueira will meet Mir at a future pay-per-view event. "Next week I will have a meeting with the UFC directors in order to find out everything about the reality show -- everything. Maybe I'll find about my next fight."

Waiting for a start date to commence shooting, the weathered 31-year-old has recently opened his second gym, Nogueira & Silva Ultimate MMA, alongside UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in Miami.

"We just did the gym in Rio de Janeiro. We opened it with Wallid [Ismail's] event, Jungle Fight, and it was a great success," Nogueira said. "Our second step was to have this gym here in the USA. A lot of people came for the opening, like Anderson Silva, Rob Kaman and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who will be giving classes here, while I'm at ‘TUF.'"

"Minotauro" currently resides in southern Florida with his family, but he is a frequent commuter on Miami-Rio air shuttle back to his native Rio de Janeiro. Nogueira credited his move to the States for his recent success.

"My life here is very good," he said. "The sport is growing a lot here. Now we are selecting excellent teachers to form a great MMA team. We have sponsorship, and everything is becoming more professional. My family lives here in south Florida, so I have everybody with me and I feel very happy. I am in a very good phase of my career."
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