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Exclusive Interview: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

(Photo courtesy of

This Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Spike TV, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira begins his duel with Frank Mir on the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 8. The two heavyweight jiu-jitsu masters will each lead a team of eight UFC hopefuls (four lightweights and four light-heavyweights), while sizing each other up for their own fight in December; the winner will take on the winner of UFC 91′s Randy Couture/Brock Lesnar match sometime next year. Luiz De Souza chatted with Big Nog on Friday to get his thoughts on his TUF experience and the UFC’s upcoming “heavyweight tournament.”


CAGEPOTATO.COM: In some of the past seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, the coaches built up great rivalries. Was there ever any hostility between you and Frank Mir? Did he get on your nerves in any way?
ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA: No, there wasn’t much of that; we have a lot of respect for each other. If there were arguments they were between the fighters themselves. I went there to do my job. I went to teach the guys, with the goal of not getting involved in fights with the guys inside the house or from the show, but to train them instead. That was my idea. I did my part and Frank did his. At times I was pissed at some of them because some of the guys were picking fights inside the house, and they would lose their control. There was one who wouldn’t quit picking fights, but overall nothing too major.

What do you think of Frank, as a person and as a fighter?
He is a good fighter, very strong, and he has great jiu-jitsu skills. He is also a very cool and nice guy, but he is my opponent, so I am training to fight him.

What’s your strategy going to be when you fight him in December? Would you rather fight him on the ground or standing?
There isn’t really a strategy; my strategy is to finish him. We don’t really choose if the fight will be standing up or on the ground. Whatever happens I will be ready for it.

After he lost to Forrest Griffin, Quinton Jackson partially blamed his performance on the fact that, because of The Ultimate Fighter, he’d gone 10 months between fights. Are you concerned that your own long layoff will affect your performance?
Well, the last time Frank Mir fought was the last time I fought, so the truth is that we both have the same disadvantage. I really don’t like to go such a long time without fighting; never in my life have I gone without fighting for this long. This does make a difference, but this is my job and I will fight when the day comes.

Who did you bring in to be assistant coaches for Team Nogueira on the show? Do you think they helped give your guys an advantage over Team Mir?
Definitely. I took the physical trainer from Brazil’s national team and I also took Amaury Bitetti, who is a three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. There’s Daniel Valverde, he was of great help to the fighters. There’s the Muay Thai trainer, Wald Bloise, who also helped them with jiu-jitsu. I also took Kenny Johnson, who is the coach for the United States wrestling team. We did an excellent job. These guys are my personal trainers; the guys from my team had the same training that I have.

Was there ever a language barrier between you and the guys on your team?
No, whatever I had to say I was able to say, especially because fighting has its own language. I speak English, and at times it’s a little complicated because of my accent, but I was able to communicate. We are all friends, we work as a team, and when people see the show they will be able to notice that we worked together like a team.

Do you consider Randy Couture to be the true heavyweight champion of the UFC?
I think the champion will be the one who wins between him and I.

Who do you think will win between Couture and Brock Lesnar?
For sure Couture has a much bigger chance of winning. He is more experienced, and he has a huge history in MMA. I would surely rather fight him [than Lesnar]. He is a stronger guy, he is more dangerous, and I want to fight the best.

Thanks so much for your time, Antonio. Are there any people or sponsors you want to thank before we sign off?
For sure, I would like to thank Pretorian, a Brazilian clothing brand who has partnered up with us in a social project to give sports equipment to children.

Cagepotato Comments

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Bruno Lima- January 26, 2009 at 6:01 am
Ei mano tu é o melhor e acabouse
agreed- September 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm
Nog is a class act and John C is a grumpy tool.
emptyhandkiller- September 15, 2008 at 11:27 am
Big Nog is an example to anyone, not just fighters. Did you ever hear him complain, whine, or make excuses? He is an old school warrior - humble, brave, tenacious. I just wish that he didn't take such terrible punishment before he whips his opponents. Choosing a favorite between him and Frank Mir is a toughie. I don't want to see either of them lose.
John C is a moron- September 14, 2008 at 9:43 pm
Big Nog is one of the greatest fighters of all time. John C made himself sound like one of those idiot fuckin' hillbilly pro wrestling fans who's been on Lesnar's jock for the past 7 years. Take nothin away from Lesnar, but his meddle will be tested here against 2 of the best of all time, in a matter of months. If it all shakes down his way. How can you not like a guy like Nog, he is a genuinely nice guy with nothing bad to say about anyone.
Nog over Couture by Sub!
Canucklechuck- September 14, 2008 at 7:58 pm
What a class act. The guy is asked the usual final question concerning mentioning his sponsors and he brings up a charitable partnership he's involved in.

John C Dvorak = Troll.
I think next time you need to try a little harder man. That shit was WEAK.
Xamot- September 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm
That would suck to have to train for a title fight while babysitting a bunch of hot headed douche bags.
Joedaddy- September 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm
That photo is courtesy of myself being as how I made it!
Jason- September 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm
John C, you come off as a total tool. It looks like you tried pretty hard to spin every thing he said into some secret agenda or attempt at disrespect. Remind me of a 12 year old sherdog poster.
Anonymous- September 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm
Big Nog?
HAHAHAHAHA*slaps knee*
mayhem420- September 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm
I cant wait for this fight between Nog and Mir.
I have wanted to see them fight since Mir broke Tim's arm.
2 of the top HW submission fighters (notice I said submission) going at it.
I dont think this one leaves the first round.
I just hope that we get Nog vs Randy and not some thing else when this is over.
Fucking Idiot- September 14, 2008 at 3:28 pm
John C sounds like he is Lesnar pissed off cuz Nog called him the weaker one..just stfu cuz u make no sense..aside from being one of the best fighters, big Nog is one of the guys with the best personalities in the fucking last answer to the interview and go find another sport to bitch at
vrane- September 14, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Dvorak, he obviously meant more skilled.

Rest of ur post also is total shit.
John C Dvorak- September 14, 2008 at 2:49 pm
>this does make a difference, but this is my job and I will fight when the day comes

Yeah buddy, your job is being a kept man, not to fight anymore.
To be the beautiful trophy to be looked at.
Youre a reality TV star like Jose Canseco and Vaniila Ice.
That's your job.

Fighters fight.
You are now Appollo Creed in the first Rocky's.

Hollywood Antonio Nogueira.

>especially because fighting has its own language.

What at coincidence, Nog has his own language he speaks.

>I would surely rather fight him [than Lesnar].
>He is a stronger guy, he is more dangerous, and I want to fight the best.

You would rather fight Couture, I get, but who is the 'stronger guy?'
It cant be couture...what the fuck are you saying?

MMA has bin berry, berry goude to me.
VillageIdiot- September 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm
I always thought it a great insult to Nogeira when Couture left the UFC wanting to fight the ''best''. Granted I think Emilianenko is the best but Nogeira is definately #2. Couture should have fought him before getting all high and might and wanting to fight the king. Imagine Nogeiras run if there were no Emilianenko.
xocgx- September 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm
I see Randy pulling another trick out of his bag for Lesnar, but you can't stop Big unless he pulls a decision, I see him losing to nog.
The man- September 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm
Nog is gona beat Frank then Couture..ill put money down
Kim Couture is a cunt- September 14, 2008 at 1:23 pm
What a classy guy. Nog is just a beaut.