Move over Chuck Liddell.
Being one of his country’s most popular athletes led to an unusual invitation for former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who will participate in “Dance of the Famous” -- Brazil’s version of “Dancing with the Stars.” The competition will be part of “Domingao do Faustao,” the top-rated Sunday afternoon television show on Rede Globo.
“I’ll dance,” Nogueira told Sherdog.com, a laugh in tow. “They called me to do it, and I’ll be there. It’s an opportunity to expose MMA to people who have never seen it. My grandmother, for instance, will attend ‘Dance of the Famous,’ but she doesn’t watch my fights.
“With this, you can humanize the sport and show people who you are,” he added. “There are some people who may criticize me, but I’m not doing this to be famous. I’m recognized in the sport and will reach an audience that’s never seen martial arts. This will be one more step for our sport.”
Noguiera has not fought since he suffered a gruesome arm injury in a UFC 140 defeat to Frank Mir in December. The 35-year-old will face Cheick Kongo at UFC 149 on July 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Despite his foray into dancing, Noguiera’s focus remains on the French kickboxer.
“My priority is my training,” Nogueira said. “Certainly, I have to train for this program once or twice a week. I train to fight five hours a day. That leaves 19 hours for me to rest, sleep and do other activities. I have hobbies like kite surfing and going to the beach with my dog, so I cut something in order to train and participate in the program.”
The “Dance of the Famous” competition will debut Sunday on Rede Globo.