Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is back, but not in a MMA cage.
The former PRIDE and UFC light heavyweight has decided to end his retirement to compete in boxing, facing fellow octagon veteran Leonardo Guimaraes in a professional bout Sunday night in Brazil. Speaking on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, he detailed the process of coming back on a different stage.
“Boxing is different but is something I love doing because I’ve boxed before and I know how it felt to be in an amateur boxing match,” Nogueira said. “But this time it’s a professional match, it’s my debut at age 45. I consider myself an experienced guy and I love getting in a ring to box.”
Nogueira competed in boxing in the final moments of his PRIDE career, qualifying for the 2007 Pan-American Games and winning a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. Returning to MMA is “more difficult” as it involves other arts like wrestling, jiu-jitsu and muay thai and could lead to more injuries at his age, he said, so boxing felt more doable.
“I’ve retired from MMA and am starting a new run in boxing,” he said. “I’m starting all over again and wanna embrace this opportunity, but no pressure. I won’t fight to win a decision, I wanna go for the knockout from start to finish. I’ll turn 46 this year and you don’t have the same condition, so I’ll have to use my experience.”
If all goes according to plans, “Minotouro” said he definitely “wants to do more” in the future.
“Vitor Belfort fought well, Anderson Silva is putting on a show,” Nogueira said. “[Silva] did that fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a difficult fight against a tough guy, and then dismantled Tito Ortiz. Who knows… I have the same age. I’m hoping everything goes right, my star shines and the left hand lands on Sunday [laughs].”
Nogueira is happy to be returning to boxing in his home country but doesn’t rule out competing in the United States next. In fact, “Minotouro” has a wishlist for potential boxing bouts he would love doing, and it mixes up boxing legends and popular YouTubers.
“We can do some great fights,” he said. “Someone like Roy Jones Jr., for example, a former champion. Or maybe a fight with Mike Tyson [laughs]. We have to dream big, right? You see Jake Paul and Logan Paul, who are doing great and are knocking people out. They are fast. They are YouTubers, but they are athletes. You have four great possibilities right there.
“Or maybe a former UFC champion, someone like Chuck Liddell. I don’t now. You have to see their age. But I think these are opportunities people have to see a former UFC champion in action boxing someone with my level of boxing. It would be entertaining.”
Asked if Mauricio Rua would be an option after sharing cages and rings three times with him in PRIDE and UFC, “Minotouro” loves the idea. The Bahia native lost close decisions in all three fights, including his retirement bout in Abu Dhabi in 2020, and invites Rua, who’s still under contract with the UFC, to run it back.
“It would be nice, huh?” Nogueira said with a smile. “Would he do it? Would he accept this challenge? Let’s do it, ‘Shogun.’ It would be a great fight, man. It would be a show under boxing rules.”
No matter who he faces in the future, Nogueira is just happy to end his combat sports career in the squared circle after a legendary 19-year career in MMA with wins over the likes of Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Kazushi Sakuraba, Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz.
“I would be ending [my career] with a flourish,” he said. “To come back and end my career with boxing matches, maybe there is no better way to finish with a career.”
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