The last time Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won two fights in a row was in 2008, when the Pride star became the interim UFC heavyweight champion against Tim Sylvia. The Brazilian veteran wants to restart his career in 2014, and he has a target.
Following a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum at TUF: Brazil 2 Finale, "Minotauro" believes TUF winner Roy Nelson could be his next opponent. Nelson, who last fought in October, is coming off back-to-back decision losses to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, stopping his 3-fight win streak.
"I’m totally interested in this fight," Nogueira told MMAFighting.com. "He’s a tough athlete and is always fighting the tops. I would like to fight him. He has a heavy hand and would be a good challenge."
"Minotauro" is still recovering from the injury sustained in his last fight with Werdum in Fortaleza, Brazil, and expects to start his camp in January.
"I’m not training hard yet, but I’m always training something with my coaches," he said. "But I won’t be able to train hard before January. I want to be back to the cage by March or April."
While he can’t fully return to trainings, "Minotauro" and his twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, focus on spreading their gym throughout Brazil.
"I’ll be recovered from my injury by the end of the year," he said. "Ligament injuries require six months to recover, so I can’t come back before that. So before I’m able to return to training, I’m focused in my gym.
"We’re developing a whole new methodology. I’m going to all the gyms now to teach our methodology with my brother and our trainers Luiz Carlos Dorea, Bruno Frazatto, Everaldo Penco, Rafael Cavalcante, Eduardo Pachu and Vander Valverde."
Team Nogueira became a successful business in Brazil, and "Minotauro" expects to make more money with his brand next year.
"We have 16 gyms today, and we’ll end 2014 with 51 gyms around Brazil," he said. "We also have Team Nogueira in Dubai, Zurich and San Diego. We have 7,000 students today, and 35 percent of them are women. We expect to have around 25 thousand students by the end of 2014.
"It’s a huge success. We created a big martial arts school that will help the future of the sport in Brazil."