by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Being a multi-time champion in Pride and the UFC isn’t enough for Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The Brazilian fighter is ready to gear up for another run at the heavyweight crown, and the next step towards that achievement comes at UFC 110 when he faces rising star Cain Velasquez.
After battling several dangerous staph infections over the last two years, Nogueira showed everybody what he had left in the gas tank when he defeated Randy Couture last August to put himself right back in the title picture.
Now readying himself for another powerfully strong and hungry wrestler, Nogueira knows the challenge ahead is a tough one, but something he welcomes for this fight.
“We’re going to see an interesting fight,” Nogueira said about his fight against Velasquez. “I think we can move a lot in this fight.
“We can see two heavyweight guys, and a couple others have ways while we can move very fast. I think that’s a difference between us and the other heavyweights in the weight division.”
The former Pride champion speaks very highly of Velasquez’s ability to move so quickly as a heavyweight, and believes that’s a tough match-up for anyone in that division.
“We’re going to move a lot. And that’s impressed me about how he can move,” Nogueira commented. “He’s very structured for the weight division. I like (to) fight someone like that so we can show all our skills.”
Velasquez has said in interviews that he doesn’t plan on changing his strategy just because of Nogueira’s considerable jiu-jitsu game, and the Brazilian believes that the ground game is just as alive as ever.
Recent comments from American Kickboxing Academy welterweight Jon Fitch stated that he believed the closed guard was “dead” in MMA, but Nogueira disagrees and feels it can play a part in this fight or any fight.
“I don’t think that’s right,” he said about the death of the closed guard. “I believe the ground is very dangerous… that’s a very important part, the submission game.”
As the main event for UFC 110, Nogueira and Velasquez both understand that a win puts them one step closer to a title shot, and depending on how things go with the March fight between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir, one of them may get the call to face Brock Lesnar this summer.
“This fight (Nogueira vs. Velasquez) will happen in Australia first, then we’ll do the Newark fight (Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin), and if those guys come out of that fight healthy, we’ll do that fight,” UFC president Dana White said recently, adding that if the winner of Mir vs. Carwin isn’t healthy, the winner of Nogueira vs. Velasquez would get the call.
Nogueira is quick to point out that he’s still got a very big task in front of him named Cain Velasquez, and the title is down the road.
“I think me and Cain, we’re doing very great in all fights. I’m talking about my last fight I do very good. He’s been doing good,” said Nogueira.
” I think we are in a good position to fight for title belt right now, but that’s not going to happen.”
Nogueira will hope to take at least one step close towards that title shot when he squares off against Cain Velasquez at UFC 110 on Saturday night.