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Global Training Report

Presents

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Interview with

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Gong Kakutougi

No. 134, June 2003

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Interviewed by Inagaki Osamu

Translated by Yoko Kondo 

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Q: How is your injury?

Nogueira: Thanks for asking, my friend. The injury on my face has already healed. I got cracks in my nose and the bone around it in the fight with Fedor. I was supposed to leave for Brazil a day or two days after the fight, but I stayed for three days until the swelling went down.

Q: Air pressure in a plane is low, so it makes the swelling worse.

Nogueira: After coming back home, I had my friend operate on my nose. It took 40 minutes, and was successful. Since then, my nose hasnf t stopped up. And maybe Ifve become more handsome than before. (laugh)

Q: It was caused by the punches of Fedor, wasnft it?

Nogueira: Yes, but the left bone of my nose seems to have been broken in the fight with Bob Sapp too. This time the right bone was broken by Fedor. I took a few hard punches from his left immediately after the start. But everything is OK now.

Q: There was a rumor that you broke your chin and eye socket.

Nogueira: No, itfs not true, just my nose and the bone around. Even the bone around my nose was just cracked rather than broken. It doesnft hurt at all.

Q: Is that so? But when I called you yesterday, you were out for a doctor.

Nogueira: Thatfs right. I went to see a doctor for my leg. In fact, I had a minor problem with my right leg before the fight with Fedor. Due to an old lower back injury, I had pain in my right leg. So I will go to Holland tomorrow to undergo full-scale treatment for it.

Q: Did you fight with Fedor under such a bad condition of your leg?

Nogueira: No, it got worse in the last three consecutive fights, starting from Semmy Schilt in the Pride 23, and then Dan Henderson, and finally Fedor. I continued fighting without a break. Besides, the pain spreads to a whole part of my leg. But that isnft why I lost to Fedor. I had a little pain for sure, but not so much. His strategy was good. I expected that he would try to pass my guard or to change his position more, but he didnft try to finish me with submission techniques. It was a good strategy.

Q: Fedor said that he thoroughly studied your triangle choke and submissions from the bottom with his coaches, and found a way to defend against them.

Nogueira: For sure, he defended himself successfully. He was fast too. Moreover he kept a good position and didnft try to pass my guard as long as there was no chance. It doesnft mean he was passive there. He kept moving. But I watched the video of the fight three times and got some ideas how to defeat him.

Q: What is that?

Nogueira: I could understand his strategy; that is, to focus on punches on the ground avoiding submission. I was top on him two times in the first round, but it took a long time to sweep. If I had been on top, I think I could have done things differently. But when I was top on him after a sweep, it was almost the end of the first round. I wanted to take time to change the position after that, but time was short. So I tried a pass-guard anyway, and I could make it. But it run out of time. And I tried a sweep in the end of the second round, and it was successful too. But time was short again.

Q: Well then, do you mean you should have tried a sweep earlier?

Nogueira: I thought I night have been able to finish him from the bottom. But he defended himself by very fast movements. He was strong and smart to not take a big risk.

Q: Certainly. He is a student of Volk Han, and you fought with Han in Rings, didnft you? How do you compare the two fighters, Han and Fedor? Their styles are different, but how about their similarities?

Nogueira: Both of them move very well on the ground. As Fedor is younger, he is more speedy though. And I think Fedor is better at the top position.

Q: Han is an expert of joint lock, while Fedor is a ground-and-pound specialist, isnft he?

Nogueira: But it requires a very good balance to keep on landing punches from the top. Physical strength is necessary too, and physical condition should be good too. But someday he will get into a position in which he has to fight in the bottom, for example a fight with Coleman or such a type of fighter. If it happens, do you think he can land such heavy punches from the bottom?

Q: That is; are you going to take a top position when you fight with him next time?

Nogueira: Yes, I will try to attack him from the top after reversing the positions.

Q: What was the strategy for the fight with Fedor this time?

Nogueira: I thought he would try to pass my guard or try to change his position in the first and second rounds. So my plan was to get him in there and finish with submission. But he focused on defending from submission and landing punches. So I thought I would finish him in the third round when he got tired. He did get tired, but he still had enough energy left to defend.

Q: You must be bitterly resentful of losing the champion belt.

Nogueira: Of course (bitter smile). Itfs not only a matter of myself. I am fighting as a representative of Brazil and my team. If itfs just a matter of myself, I wouldnft feel resentment as much, because all I have to do is just to fight him again in future and win. But when I think of my country and disappointing my friends who support me, I feel so bad.

Q: By the way, do you know that Mirko defeated Bob Sapp in K-1?

Nogueira: Yes I do. It is a great victory, isnft it? I havenft watched the video yet, but I want to fight with Mirko too. All of us on the Top Team will fight anybody who is on the top level. Many fighters say, gI donft want to fight himh, but the Top Team doesnft talk like that. Mirko is a top fighter and a tough guy, so I want to fight him. And he is undefeated so far in MMA.

Q: Mirko says that he wants to challenge Fedor for the heavy title of Pride.

Nogueira: It will be an interesting fight. Mirko is an excellent striker and Fedor is a good ground-and-pound fighter too. Fedorfs standing movements are also good.

Q: Mirko says that he will knock Fedor out without giving him a chance for takedown.

Nogueira: Surely. Mirko is very good at sprawling. But Fedor doesnft tackle the way a wrestler does. In his case, he hugs the waist and throws his opponent down in the Greco-Roman style.

Q: Fedor has judo experience too.

Nogueira: Thatfs right. So it is difficult to defend from Fedorfs throwing.

Q: If you fight Mirko, how would you fight him?

Nogueira: I will follow his standing fight a little bit, but I will get him into the ground after all, because I can fight better on the ground than he can.

Q: Are you going to take him in your guard?

Nogueira: No, I will take a top position, and finish with a submission technique from the top.

Q: Are you completely keeping away from training now?

Nogueira: Yes, except for weight training. Ifm focusing on building up the power of the line of the backbone. Then Ifm watching many fighting videos including mine and my brotherfs. And Ifm examining my way of fighting.

Q: In the end, could you give a message for the Japanese fans?

Nogueira: I will start full scale training from April 24th, and I want to fight in Japan again as soon as possible. I want to show a better fight and my technique to my Japanese fans then. One more thing is that I want to fight with Fedor again as soon as possible and get the belt back.

Q: A lot of fans are looking forward the day when they can watch your excellent techniques again.

Nogueira: Yes. I want to show them in a fight with Fedor by finishing him next time. I lost last time, but we on the Top Team have been fighting with the super top level fighters without turning our backs to anybody. So sometimes anybody can lose. For example, even Earnest Hoost in K-1 sometimes lost, didnft he? Nobody can avoid it in the fights between top fighters. But I donft like to run away from a strong opponent.

Q: That is what is great about you. Then, I wish you a success of your treatment and your early comeback. And donft feel down too much.

Nogueira: I completely felt down just after I lost (laugh). But now I think that loss gave me a new motivation. Ifm OK now.

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For more  interviews with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on GTR, see Interviews.:

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 (c) 2000-2003, Yoko Kondo. All rights reserved.

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