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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on Fedor Emelianenko: 'It's time to retire'

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Guilherme Cruz photo

The list of former PRIDE heavyweight champions makes for one exclusive club: There's Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fedor Emelianenko, and that's it.

The 40-year-old Nogueira called it a career last year after losing to Stefan Struve at UFC 190, riding off into the sunset with an induction into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Emelianenko, however, fights on. The 40-year-old Russian came out of a three-year retirement last Dec. 31 and has competed twice, most recently a disputed decision victory ove light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado.

From where Nogueira sits, though, perhaps Emelianenko should stay retired. Nogueira, in Melbourne for Saturday's UFC Fight Night card, was asked by Australia's Submission Radio what he thought about "The Last Emperor's" continued fight career and suggested Fedor may have been better off retired.

"If he got to the UFC five years ago, maybe seven years ago, something like that, he'd be in his prime," Nogueira said. "But now, it's not his time go anymore. If I'm in his place, It's time to retire."

Emelianenko, who defeated Nogueira to win the PRIDE title in 2003, clearly isn't listening to Nogueira's advice, as he's scheduled to fight Matt Mitrione in Bellator on Feb. 18. But despite Nogueira's stated desire to see Fedor call it quits, he believes Emelinaneko still has what it takes to win the fight.

"I mean Fedor is prepared for this fight, he's fighting more, he's been in shape," Nogueira said. "But a fight's a fight, you never know. The last fight, Fedor and Maldanado, you know, Maldonado surprised him. So you never know. A fight is a fight but Fedor's got everything to win this fight."