Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira says he's feeling great after his UFC 102 victory over Randy Couture, and he's hoping to fight again soon, with the goal of getting a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
"They asked me to fight in December," Nogueira said. "I'm ready. ... I'm going to be in shape in December. i don't know who I'm going to fight, but my goal is to fight Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight title. He's big but I think I've got better skills than him."
Putting on my Joe Silva matchmaker thinking cap, the fight that would make the most sense for the UFC is putting Nogueira in a rematch of his 2003 battle with Mirko Cro Cop -- but only if Cro Cop first beats Nogueira's friend and training partner Junior dos Santos at UFC 103. A Nogueira-Cro Cop fight, with the winner getting a shot at the Lesnar-Shane Carwin winner, would be great.
If Cro Cop loses, however, things get trickier. Nogueira vs. dos Santos won't happen because of their friendship. Nogueira wants a rematch with Frank Mir, who beat him last year, but Mir is scheduled to fight Cheick Kongo in December. Cain Velasquez would make sense as an opponent for Nogueira, but he's fighting Ben Rothwell on October 24 and presumably wouldn't be ready to fight again in December.
I actually think it's possible that Nogueira could fight the Carwin-Lesnar winner without having to win another fight, although I think it's more likely he'll first fight Cro Cop, Velasquez or Mir. In any case, that great victory over Couture put Nogueira on the fast track to title contention.