UFC on FUEL TV 10: Retirement isn’t on ‘hungry’ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s radar - a title shot is

Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

If you think Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is ready to call it a career, think again. The former PRIDE and interim UFC heavyweight champion says he is still “hungry” and wouldn’t say “no” to a title fight if given the chance.

He's 37 years old, has been competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) for nearly 15 years and has 43 fights against many of yesterday's legends such as Mirko Filipovic, Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture to go along with tough battles versus today's top stars like current 265-pound champ Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir.

He's also the only man to hold both the PRIDE Fighting Championship (PRIDE FC) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight titles.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has had a storied career, to say the least. And after being in the fight game for so long and with so many accomplishments, you would think there isn't much to add to his resume, right?

Wrong.

According "Minotauro" himself, he still has enough left in the tank for one last run at the divisional title. So before you begin to lobby for his retirement, know that the Brazilian brawler isn't ready to cash in those 401 K checks just yet.

He breaks it down to USA Today:

"I'm not quitting yet. You guys always want to put me out of the game, but I'm hungry."

Alternating wins and losses over his past six fights, Nogueira hasn't had a winning streak since racking up three straight against Josh Barnett, Heath Herring and Tim Sylvia from 2006 to 2008.

Coming off a win over Dave Herman at UFC 153 eight months ago, "Big Nog" looks to make it two in a row as he takes on Fabricio Werdum this weekend (Jun 8, 2013) in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 10 from Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.

And while Nogueira already holds a unanimous decision win over "Vai Cavalo" back to their days competing in Japan for the now-defunct PRIDE organization, Antonio knows his fellow countrymen is a completely different fighter than he was seven years ago.

He explains:

"Fabricio Werdum is totally different from the last fight. He improved a lot. We grappled in our first fight, and I felt his strength. That doesn't change. But I think before he was more like a jiu-jitsu guy. Now he's a complete fighter. It's going to be a new fight."

And just because Werdum -- who is only two years younger than Antonio -- has improved and Nogueira's body has taken plenty of abuse over the years, doesn't mean Fabricio will have an easy fight ahead of him. And if Nogueira can get past his countrymen for a second time and manage to string together a few wins starting this weekend, he won't turn down a title fight if given the opportunity.

"Right now, I'm thinking about each step, especially about this fight. What's Fabricio Werdum thinking? That he's going to have an easy fight? Not at all. I'm going to give my best in this fight. I'm thinking about this fight, especially, but if I got a chance to fight for the title, why not? I'm good. I'm fast. I've got skills enough to do it. I've been one of the best heavyweights in the world for the past 12 years."

Naysayers will say experience and past accomplishments can only take you so far, it's what you can do for me now that counts.

Knowing that, the longtime veteran Nogueira is determined to prove he can still perform and win at the highest level in today's talent-filled and youth-driven heavyweight division. Just like he did when he submitted the much younger "Pee Wee" last year and knocked out Brendan Schaub at UFC 134.

Anyone think the former PRIDE champ can make one last run at the strap?

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on Saturday (June 8, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, as well as the main card, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.

For more news and notes on UFC on FUEL TV 10, click here.

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