Antonio Rogério “Minotauro” Nogueira took another significant step up in his weight class by beating Rashad Evans at UFC 156 last Saturday in Las Vegas.
The fighter disembarked in Rio de Janeiro this week and was plenty pleased about having overcome Evans. The rare missing presence at the airport was his brother, Rodrigo Nogueira, who was always seen at his fights but was unable to make it to Las Vegas because he was shooting the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” Rogerio made a point of thanking his training partners, especially coaches Sergio Cunha, Edelson Silva and his Russian wrestling coach, Khetag Pliev.
“I really missed having Rodrigo in my corner,” Nogueira said of his brother. “He always accompanies me to all competitions, so I really missed having that support, but I have nothing but high praise for my training partners at Team Nogueira and my coaches Cunha and Edelson, who got me up to speed on my feet and showed me the path to winning. Everyone was always there for me, sacrificing their time and dedicating themselves almost exclusively to my fight, and that is something priceless. The outcome of all that couldn’t be anything but victory.”
Minotauro spent the three rounds beating to the punch his opponent, who was coming off a five-round title fight with the phenomenal Jon Jones and has always been known for his endless gas tank.
“I felt a little ring rust early on because I’d gone more than a year without fighting, recovering from injuries, but after that I let loose and managed to push the pace in boxing and frustrate Rashad’s takedown attempts,” he said. “My endurance was great. It had been a long time since I’d felt in such good shape, and it’s not common for a fighter to feel physically so well after so long on ice, especially against a fighter of Rashad’s caliber and physicalprowess. I couldn’t hope for such a good return. I’m overjoyed.”
The Team Nogueira fighter asserted that he will continue to work on his wrestling. Minotouro had great praise for the work Olympic wrestler Khetag Pliev did withhim at his training camp. “Little Nog” preferred not to make any predictions about his next fights, but he does guarantee that his stock has risen in the division.
“I intend to continue practicing wrestling–this fight proved a lot to me,” he said. “I always train with Eric Albarracin, but he went to do TUF with Minotauro, and Khetag Pliev coming here was essential. I intend to bring him over to help me out more in the future. As for my next fights, I’ll leave that up to the UFC, but I do believe that the win has upped my stock in the division.”
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