"I'm 33 years old, and I have a lot to do in my career still," Nogueira said. "At least, I've got to fight a couple of more years.
"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."
But rumors are swirling that his camp hasn't gone well and that he has been knocked out repeatedly in sparring sessions, a far cry from the iron-chinned Minotauro of old.
We will find out almost exactly one week from tonight. Personally, I'm hoping for the best Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira we've ever seen, but I just can't convince myself it's very likely.
The other question is this -- even if it is the best Big Nog we've ever seen, could that man beat Randy Couture? Perhaps if they had met ten years ago when Couture's submission defense game was much more limited. But in 2009, it's hard to draw a path to victory for Nogueira. He might be able to outpoint Couture on the feet, but he's never displayed KO power. There's no way he'll dominate the takedowns against Couture and it's highly unlikely he'll be able to sweep Randy from his back. That leaves the old hail mary triangle or arm bar from his back. But it's not 2003 and Randy ain't Mirko Cro Cop.
Video of Big Nog training in the full entry.
Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.
Here's Big Nog training at his L.A. Black House gym for Randy Couture at UFC 102: