Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will finally be returning to the cage after a 19-month layoff when he faces Brendan Schaub at UFC 134, and there is going to be a lot of pressure on him to perform well in front of his home country. He sat down to talk to Tatame about that, in addition to discussing the newest member of Team Nogueira, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. First, he talks about his preparation:
The prep is great, I’m having the support of my friends here, thanks’ God, like Pedro Rizzo, Anderson (Silva), Bigfoot, who came here and is helping me on this final phase of the trainings and he’ll do a camp for his fight here and he’s helping on my camp too, so he’s getting back his conditioning and he’ll be prepared and so will I, and he’s helping me on that matter. There’s also Junior (dos Santos), Rafael Feijao, who’s my training partner and helped me a lot. The expectations are high. There’s that pressure of fighting at home and representing the Brazilian people, and it’ll be almost my 40th bout… I’m super motivated.
Then it was onto Bigfoot:
To me, Bigfoot coming here was great because he’s a guy who has a big team a big support at Imperial Athletic. He came here invited by me, he helped me a lot and I’ve helped him on the beginning of his career and now called him in to help me out here and he came, really liked it here and actually decided to do his camp here in Rio. So it was really good for me. I also asked for De La Riva’s help on this camp to help me in Jiu-Jitsu, Amaury Bitetti, who’s always worked with me. There’s also Ramon Lemos helping me, so I gathered many people to help me to get prepared for this bout, and Big Foot coming here was really important because he’s a big and strong guy, like the guy I’m fighting and I guess it was really important.
Bigfoot has all the tools to become Strikeforce GP champion. I believe he’ll become the champion of the tournament and also of the event. He has always been a top guy because he’s a big guy, agile, thin… He’s not a heavy or really muscle guy, he’s just big, he has good takedowns, he has a good ground game, he has good Boxing skills, he has a perfect Wrestling, he’s practically a international level wrestler. He trains his takedowns a lot, he’s explosive, he has great conditioning, he has a good head too, when the fight comes he becomes even bigger. He’s not a lion on the gym, he’s a lion on the fights (laughs).
Under the tutelage of Nogueira and with such a strong camp at his disposal, it's tough to argue with what Big Nog is saying about Bigfoot. Nogueira himself is in for a tough test when he meets Schaub on August 27th though.