Former PRIDE FC and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (the only man to hold the distinction) got back on the winning track this past October as he defeated Dave Herman in the second round of their co-main event fight at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Proving to the world, and himself, that his arm, which was broken by Frank Mir at UFC 140, is back in full effect, the Brazilian submission wizard now sets his sights on his next battle inside the Octagon as he takes on fellow countrymen, Fabricio Werdum.
Before the two jiu-jitsu aces go toe-to-toe for the second time in their careers, they will help usher in the new crop of young aspiring fighters as coaches for the second-ever edition of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil.
Something Nogueira looks forward to doing as he recently expressed at yesterday's (Nov. 8, 2012) TUF 2 Brazil conference call:
"It's gonna be a very good experience. We've got seven coaches from Team Nogueira and we're gonna do the same as in our gym. We'll try to find new good talent and try to help the guys to be on the UFC level. I'm very happy to fight Fabricio Werdum. He proved a lot in his last few fights and I'm pretty sure we're gonna make a very good fight."
This will be Nog's second go-round as coach on the television show. Previously, he coached against the aforementioned Mir in 2008 on TUF, before the two men squared up at UFC 92 in what was the first of their two meetings.
At 36 years of age, Nogueira now has 43 mixed martial arts (MMA) fights under his belt. Despite the many miles on his aging tires, the wily Brazilian says he still has dreams of regaining the UFC's heavyweight title.
As long as he doesn't have to fight his young protege, of course:
"There's no chance I'd fight Junior dos Santos. We've been friends since he started his jiu-jitsu training. I do still want to be champion and I'd love to fight for the belt (if it's not him). This fight is going to be very important for me because with each fight you win or lose is a step forward or a step back."
After showing Dave Herman that Brazilian jiu-jitsu really does work, "Big Nog" reflects on his recent victory after being on the sidelines with a broken limb thanks to the slick submission moves of Mir:
"The fight against Herman for sure was a challenge for me. It was a really big amount of damage to my arm. I broke my arm and had sixteen screws in my arm and I had to prove to myself I could go back into the cage and fight and do it in Brazil. It was a big step and it was very important to me to prove I was back and was one of the best guys in the heavyweight division. I'm back again. It was a very important fight for me."
A win over the resurgent Werdum will go a long way in inching Nogueira towards his championship dreams. A loss, on the other hand, can be very detrimental to those goals and possibly his career as a whole.
What say you? Can the grizzled veteran, Nogueira, make one final run inside the UFC before the clock on his illustrious fight career runs out?