Monday, May 23, 2011

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira "completely healed" from injury, ready to submit Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 in Brazil

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will make his long-awaited return to the cage this August, fighting in his home country of Brazil for the very first time in his 12-year-career. Taking on Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Nogueira returns from surgery on his hip and knee, fighting for the first time since a February 2010 loss to now Champion Cain Velasquez.

The fight was the most recent announced for the event, which marks the UFC's return to the country for the first time since 1998, and Nogueira talked to Brazilian outlet this weekend about his surgery, fighting in Brazil and his opponent in Schaub.

"I [sped] things up on my healing process because of this bout," Nogueira said of the extra motivation of fighting in Rio. "I've focused on what I would need so that I could fight in Rio. I've never fought in Brazil. It's a dream come true, fighting where I live, in my home. It'll be nice, exciting. Representing Brazil will be cool."

Nogueira said the announcement of the fight was held off as he was waiting for full clearance from his doctors, and he gave the UFC the go ahead this week when he was cleared to go for the August fight.

"We were waiting for the doctor to say I was good to go," Nogueira explained. "I met him this week, I've asked the guys from UFC to wait a little longer [to announce the fight], to check if I would have conditions to do actually do it. The doctor told me I'm ok, asked me to start training and he'll be side by side with me until the bout, to check how I'm doing. I'm coming back after over a year without fighting, doing my trainings and regaining speed, but I'm feeling fine. I'm not 100% yet. The problem is my conditioning, because I'm completely healed from my injury."

Being healed from injury is excellent news, as the 34-year-old has fought a very abusing style to his own body throughout the entirety of his career, and in his last several fights got to the point where he looked like a worn down version of himself. He's hoping to change that perception with his return.

"I was fighting injured, I wasn't doing good at all," he said. "I was slow, my leg was heavy, my hip was injured. I couldn't really explode because I was slow, less agile, less flexible.

"I want to be on a good position again. I was last defeated by the champion (Cain Velasquez), who's been beating everybody down. Many people try to let me down, saying that I'm not that Rodrigo I used to be anymore, but as the bouts go by, I'll be among the tops again."

Nogueira explained that his surgeries to fix the injuries he was dealing with have improved things to a great degree in training, and he believes he'll be a different fighter come August 27.

"I'm more balanced and more explosive," he said. "I'm doing my physiotherapy sessions with Angela Cortes, who was pointed out by my doctor. She helped on Gustavo's (tennis player) healing process and she's really good. After the injury is completely healed, I'll keep doing physiotherapy so that I get more stretched. We get hurt every day. The truth is that a MMA fighter is always injured. We need to do some stretches here and there. I'm doing it three hours a day, from Monday to Saturday, and I'm faster, more at ease."

This heavyweight fight will be a featured bout on the night's fight card, and the former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion believes they'll have the best fight on a stacked card at the HSBC Arena. Not only that, but Nogueira was clear on how he sees the fight ending.

"[The best fight of the night will] be mine," Nogueira asserted. "I'll submit him. It'll be a good bout. [Schaub] is a warrior. It'll be a pretty busy fight for the heavyweight division."

Link to Original Source Article

Penick's Analysis: I hope that these surgeries have brought Nogueira to a better spot in his overall health, and that we can avoid seeing the zombie-like Nogueira that was present at UFC 110. He's such a legend of the sport, and is still relatively young in his own right. It's incredible that he's had the career that he has, and is still only 34-years-old. Punishment absorbed in fights along with injuries had him looking many years ahead of his age, but if he can come back strong it doesn't need to be a fizzling out for him. The big thing for him will be getting his cardio and conditioning back up to speed after being out for so long, and if he can bring Schaub to the ground in this fight he'll be at a significant advantage. However, should he win this fight in August, it will probably be in a typical Nogueira-style fight where he fights through whatever Schaub throws at him to pull out a win late. That sounds like an exciting fight to me, and I can't wait to see what he's got left this August.

[Antonio Nogueira art by Cory Gould (c)]


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