It has been a rough patch for Antônio Rogério Nogueira in the UFC. Several injuries have kept Lil' Nog out of the octagon on a number of occasions. Since his UFC debut, in 2009, he has fought only seven times. But, after a surprising unanimous decision win against Rashad Evans in 2013, his career seemed to be back on track, as the Brazilian had never been closer to a title shot.
Then the injury bug bit again and he had to sit out for more than a year.
When Lil' Nog came back, Anthony Johnson only needed 44 seconds to end his nice streak of victories with some devastating uppercuts last July. The 38 year old has been out ever since, but now is scheduled for a rematch ten years in the making, against Maurício Rua, at UFC 190 in Rio.
Free from injuries, Rogério believes his time has come again.
"I had a good win streak, then I lost, so now I want to be fully prepared for my next fight". He told Combate. "I will be focused, I want to forget everything and just train. I'm feeling 100% physically. We still have about four months to get ready, that's a lot of time, which is great. I will be able to do a big camp, bring in some good guys to spar with and develop a nice gameplan. I will step up my muay thai, which is Shogun's forte and also my wrestling. Four months is plenty of time to train all martial arts".
Even though Rua lost four of his last five fights, Lil' Nog believes he is still as dangerous as he ever was and surprisingly thinks Shogun is going through a good moment in his career.
"Shogun still is a dangerous athlete. He was winning the Dan Henderson fight until he got caught. His last fight against Ovince St-Preux was just bad luck, Shogun is better than him, but Ovince capitalized on the only mistake Shogun made. He is in a good moment, and still is young. A lot of people say otherwise, but I don't. I think he's doing great".
With four fights left to complete his current contract, Minotouro says he intends to fight twice in 2015 and sees himself fighting for three more years, as long as his body allows him to.
"I want to fight twice this years. I hope I can still go for two, three more years. I only need to stay healthy and training. I have to be able to train. If I can't train because of an injury, I prefer not to fight. I want to feel confident, get good fights and evolve. This sport has evolved a lot and you must train all the time to keep up with it".
Rogério will also be part of his brother's team, against Maurício Rua, on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Team Nogueira vs. Team Rua, which will begin on April 5th.