Approaching 18 months out of the Octagon following a series of surgeries on his knees and hips, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is still continuing his battle back to full fitness, but he hasn’t given up hope of fighting at August’s UFC 134: Rio card just yet.
According to Big Nog’s coach Luis Carlos Dorea that is still a possibility, though it’s far from certain.
“Rodrigo is going through much physiotherapy, he’s seeing how things are, but we first have to check his conditions, his health,” Dorea tells TATAME. “If he’s good to go, I don’t see any problems. The thing isn’t about the fight, but the trainings. The trainings are hard, and Rodrigo trains like twice, three times a day, so he has to be good, 100% healed so that he can train hard and don’t feel a thing. Rodrigo’s doing just fine, we’ll all support him.”
Whether it occurs during the UFC’s return to Brazil or not, there’s one familiar foe that Big Nog and his camp are keen to see him matched-up with.
“I’d like to see him fighting (Mirko) Cro Cop. If it doesn’t happen in August, it can be in September, October… But it’s a fight I’d like to see. I’ve seen Cro Cop saying things about it, saying he’d like to fight Rodrigo. They’re two legends, two big names… It really would be an interesting fight to watch in MMA.”
Nogueira and Cro Cop originally fought in what at the time was a bout of huge significance back in 2003 during their time in the PRIDE organization, with Big Nog coming out on top thanks to a second round submission.
At that time they were both at the very top of their game, but in recent years both have been on a slippery slope in the UFC as age and injuries catch up with them.
Personally I think Cro Cop should retire, but if he is to be given one last fight then the chance to avenge an old loss like this would be meaningful, while compared to some of the other potential match-ups available to him at heavyweight, a fight with the Croatian is perhaps a relatively gentle re-introduction after such a long injury layoff.