Rodrigo Nogueira: On the Rebound

By Portal da Vale Tudo Mar 16, 2005
Former PRIDE heavyweight champion Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira is back in the gym following his fight against Emelianenko Fedor on New Years Eve. In this interview from Brazil, “Minotauro” speaks about his state of mind after his second defeat to the Russian, what he thinks of a potential Fedor-Filipovic showdown, as well as other insightful topics. After the vacation time following PRIDE Shockwave 2, are you already back training?

Rodrigo Nogueira: I already started to train, then in the beginning of February and [I stopped during] the carnival. I am in the expectation of fights, am training and improving my technique. But I did not push the training because I do not have a scheduled fight. When it has been scheduled, I [will] come back a 100 percent. Has your contract already been extended?

Nogueira: Still I have not signed. I am in negotiations with them, but my desire is to continue in PRIDE. What are your plans for 2005?

Nogueira: I want to win all the fights that I will have, and to position myself to fight for the belt again. Any preference to fight against Fedor?

Nogueira: Either him or “Cro Cop”—whomever has the belt does not matter. My bigger objective is to catch the title once again. You must have watched your last fight against Fedor many times, what you can say about it?

Nogueira: I did not watch the fight very much, one or two times only. Strategically the man is good; he has a fast entrance, designed to strike and to attack the legs or give a straight punch … then I never knew when he was going for the straight punch or for the legs. So it was very difficult to defend the takedowns, which complicated the fight. He took me down some six times, very fast. He is very explosive. I was able to box with him OK, but I didn’t find myself in the first round. In second, more or less, I was not [fighting] with a good distance so I wasn’t able to take him down. In the end of the first round I had a good moment, obtaining the top position, but the round was over. He made a difficult fight and strategically he is very good. I’m going to have to train more and improve my game. Each time that I make a fight like this, I learn something. With certainty this fight was better than the first one. The second fight was good. In the third he dominated the fight, with takedowns and on the ground. He was smart, did not want to work the ground with me; you saw that he did a little ground-and-pound and then stood back up. It is difficult because he did not want to be in the ground to pass the guard, and this was pretty confusing for me. He was more worried about punching from the guard. He took me down, pounded a little and stood up. It was difficult. What would you do differently while training for a new fight against Fedor?

Nogueira: I would give more emphasis to wrestling. He did takedowns there that I could not have fallen. And are you already training more wrestling?

Nogueira: Already I am training. People have three modalities—standing, wrestling and ground. I am training more wrestling because when I am on top I find the fight very easy for me. I give a lot of heat when the fella is [on his back]. Then he does not have reason to be making guard always. PRIDE is trying to get Fedor to fight “Cro Cop.” Who do you think will win between to two?

Nogueira: It’s going to be a hard fight for Fedor, but I find he likes to fight more; he is more of a fighter. Mirko is very gifted. He locates well in ring, he has good sprawl, he has a good kick, but I find Fedor warlike. He is sharper. What are your expectations for the participation of your brother Rogério in the PRIDE middleweight GP?

Nogueira: Rogério fought well against Alistair (Overeem). I am with a good expectation for him. It will have good fighters: Shogun, Wanderlei, Quinton Jackson … but I [believe] more on our side. He will have some good fights this year. Pedro Rizzo is about to sign with PRIDE. What do you think of this?

Nogueira: I find it wonderful. He is one hell of a fighter, very experienced. In the cage they were always trying to smother him, and that was about all they did. When a fighter goes from an event to another he has a new spirit up, he goes to fight different. He was in the UFC for several years and it’s always that same mood, that same song. In PRIDE he goes to have another adrenaline, another motivation. What do you think about the ascension of Andrei Arlovski in the UFC?

Nogueira: Man, I saw his last fight and he was good. He punches well, [and] has a decent ground game. It’s hard to put him down. He is a man that is on the rise, but I am more like us, and [like] Pedro (Rizzo), we catch him. Pedro already knocked Andrei out

Nogueira: It is the truth. It was a big right that he gave to the dude. To tell you the truth, Pedro already beat all the champions of the Ultimate. He beat Andrei, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, (Mark) Coleman … the only problem is that he never beat them for the title. In the end of 2004, they filmed a reality show in your house. How was it?

Nogueira: The man filmed the training that people make to fight. Everything that rolls exactly: the diet; the training; the physical preparation; the environment of the house; people waking up. He showed all the rituals that people make before the fight. The man filmed before my last fight, this last one with Rogério, and must film before my next one. Then he goes to show how an athlete behaves before the fight. Your house is a center of training …

Nogueira: It is truth. Before the fights friends always come here … [there] is always a fight climate 24-hours-per day, which is good. They only speak of fighting and even women are forbidden here. Randy Couture is 41 years old and is about to defend his title in the UFC. What do you think of him?

Nogueira: The man is a monster. I was seeing old fights of him and he is very strong. I find that now he is even more of a technician. He improved after being older. Everybody that speaks of MMA speaks of the man. He was champion, lost the title two times, came back and was champion, lost another fight and was champion again. He is an example of determination. … He is a great champion. Wanderlei Silva has said many times that he wants to fight against the champion of the UFC. Do you also have this desire?

Nogueira: I [fight for] PRIDE and if they ask me to fight in the Ultimate would; that would be an honor. If they make one interchange, I am open to fight, but I do not have one fighter there that I want to fight. To finish, leave some message to your fans.

Nogueira: I wanted to thank the people who were cheering to me in this last fight, but unfortunately, I did not win. But I have my head up high and I’ll continue training to fight for Brazil and the people who have been cheering for me. Those people who had stopped cheering for me—I saw a group in the Internet speaking, "Ah, ‘Minotauro’ fought badly”—know that I trained very hard for this fight, it was not due to lack of training. I continue to improve, because there are days that people fight well, but there are days that people do not obtain to develop our game. I am with my head up high and I’m going to have many more victories in the future.
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