When Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira lost his interim UFC heavyweight title in December, few took notice of news that Nogueira was far from 100 percent for the title fight.
In fact, just a few weeks before the Mir fight, Nogueira was hospitalized for nearly a week with a serious staph infection. He had just two weeks to recuperate for the bout.
To top it off, he had to fight through a fairly significant knee injury that would require surgery two months after the Mir bout.
But now as Nogueira finishes preparations for next week's UFC 102 main event with Randy Couture, the particulars of his UFC 92 ailments are getting the attention they deserve. One person taking note is Couture, who knows he'll fight a much different fighter than the one we saw in December.
Nogueira said during a recent UFC 102 media call, "You know, bad fights happen," "You know, it's not every fight you’re going to be 100 percent."
While Nogueira discussed his problems, he still gave credit to Mir's performance.
"It was very, very bad for me to fight (in that condition)," he said. "I couldn't move at all, and that day Frank caught me (with) a good left hand three times, and he made the fight. I couldn't follow his game, his fight. I couldn't get to him. He was in a good position in the cage."
Couture responded on the same call, he knows he can't count on seeing the same Nogueira at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore., next week.
"I think that I have to prepare for the best Minotauro that we've ever seen," Couture said. "And I can't factor into the equation any of those kinds of questions (about his health). So I think he's going to be prepared. I think he's going to come to a great training camp and be ready to go as hard as he needs to go for this fight."
Nogueira believes he’s physically in his best fighting shape since 2005, if that’s true maybe we will see the ‘Big Nog’ who went 22-2 with 17 finishes.
"I know I'm still young and feel healthy. I still feel when I fight I'm very competitive. ... I'm in the best shape since 2005. I feel very good, and I did not feel like (that) in the last four years."
Written by Paul Badame
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