SAO PAULO – When Antonio Rogerio Nogueira accepted a fight at UFC Fight Night 137, he expected it to be a test of his ability to continue.
But even before he started trading punches with Sam Alvey (33-11 MMA, 10-6 UFC) in the FS1-televised event, it was a fight just to get to the octagon. No sooner did he sign the contract than a back injury left Nogueira (23-8 MMA, 6-5 UFC) unable to train, he told reporters following his second-round knockout of Alvey at Ibirapuera Gymnasium.
At 242 pounds, Nogueira had a hard time getting in shape, much less getting the weight off. Then he suffered an infection that required him to be hospitalized for 10 days.
“A month before the fight, I was full of antibiotics in my body,” said Nogueira, who returned after being cleared of a potential anti-doping violation. “We worked a lot of conditioning to try and come back and keep my stamina.”
With 10 days left to the fight, Nogueira finally started to feel like himself, and he was confident he could perform. His plan was to set up his punches and not brawl.
Alvey rocked him in the first round, and briefly his gameplan went out the window. But Nogueira was able to recover and land a shot that sent Alvey reeling across the octagon before a flurry of follow-ups left the American in a heap on the canvas.
So, Nogueira has passed his test. But what now?
It’s not like he has another five years to work his way back up the ranks at light heavyweight. Whatever he does, he’ll need to make smart choices and maximize his time.
“I intend on coming back to fight,” Nogueira said. “I want to come back. I want to feel the octagon again. For as long as I can train well. And if my back injury doesn’t put me to the side, I intend on fighting again.”
Nogueira expects to hear more questions about retirement. He’s been fighting for so long, it’s almost a miracle he’s still walking, let alone facing some of the toughest men in the world. He doesn’t mind if people are concerned.
“It’s normal due to my age,” he said. “I’m 42. I think in the UFC, there’s not many fighters my age. Dan Henderson and Randy Couture fought at 44, 45 years old. But definitely I have to think about my retirement.
“It’s not something out of the question, but I think tonight’s performance maybe will put that to the side a little bit more. I intend on fighting this year again; I’m going to ask to see if I can fight before the end of the year, or the beginning of next year.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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