He may look older, but Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is only 36 years of age.
That's one year younger than his long-time friend and training partner, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, who, if we go by appearances, looks much younger than the former PRIDE FC heavyweight champion.
In fact, Silva has been fighting in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) two years longer than "Big Nog."
Grueling battles with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett and Dan Henderson have undoubtedly taken a toll on the body of Nogueira, but, despite his outward appearance, the Brazilian submission wizard, who was also the UFC's 265-pound kingpin in 2008, says he stills feels good physically and has plenty of fight left in him.
Following his second round submission victory (armbar) over Dave Herman at UFC 153 this past weekend (Oct. 13, 2012), ‘Big Nog' feels he can still hang with the top 10 heavyweights the UFC has to offer.
He said as much at the UFC 153 post-fight press conference:
"I still can fight. I feel amazing and I'm still hungry. I feel good physically. I'm very happy to be a part of the co-main event in Brazil and I want to be back fighting in Brazil next year or anywhere (UFC president Dana White) puts me. I want to fight Top 10 guys. I can't ask for the belt, because my buddy, Junior dos Santos, is the champion. He's kind of my brother, and I'm going to be helping him for the next two weeks for his fight against Cain Velasquez. But I want to fight against the best guys."
Over his last six bouts inside the Octagon, Nogueira has alternated wins and losses, with his three defeats coming at the hands of top 10 fighters in the form of former champions Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir (twice).
His last successful showing over a top 10 ranked opponent was against Randy Couture back in 2009 at UFC 102. Noguiera defeated "The Natural" via unanimous decision, rocking Couture early and often and almost submitting the UFC Hall of Famer on more than one occasion.
With Junior dos Santos currently sitting atop the heavyweight division, gearing up for his second title defense against the aforementioned Velasquez at UFC 155 in December, Antonio has no interest in facing his protege, but he is open to all comers not named "Cigano."
Any recommendations out there from you armchair matchmakers?