To put it simply, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) knows Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is not the same man he faced in 2006 – not even close.
So when the two meet this summer following a stint as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2,” Nogueira said he’s expecting a completely different fight.
“Each fight is different,” Nogueira told MMAjunkie.com Radio(www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I know it’s not going to be the same fight. I don’t think it’s going to come to boxing like the last fight.”
The first time the pair met was in the quarterfinal round of PRIDE’s 2006 open weight grand prix. Despite the jiu-jitsu pedigree of both fighters, much of the bout played out on the feet, and Nogueira earned the upper hand and was awarded a unanimous-decision win. Since that meeting, both have had mixed results with Nogueira going 6-4 in 10 appearances and Werdum going 8-3 in that same time.
However, both have continued to round out their arsenal since that time, and Nogueira said he expects the fight to play out in a very different fashion.
“It was a while ago,” Nogueira said. “I know he changed a lot. He improved his standup. So did I. I think I improved my wrestling, and my boxing is way better – my striking, too. I think I can hit harder than last time I fought him. It’s going to be a great fight.”
First, of course, the two must fulfill their coaching duties on “TUF: Brazil 2.” They show was a massive hit during its debut season, and Nogueira believes the second will also impress, especially considering his desire to earn success for his team.
“I want to win as a coach,” Nogueira said. “I want to make a champ. That’s the game, and that’s my dream. That’s what we do at Team Nogueira. It’s going to be the same over there. We’re going to work hard to win.
“It’s these guys’ dream to be under a UFC contract. I want to make them good fighters. I think we’re going to do it.”
The series debuts in Brazil in early 2013, and the coaches will meet following the conclusion of the series. At 36 years old and with countless battles under his belt, Nogueira has often been counted out by fans and pundits. Still, he continues to wow his countrymen with recent wins over the likes of Dave Herman and Brendan Schaub.
“Big Nog” could potentially boast a psychological advantage over Werdum considering he’ll have the confidence of a previous victory in his back pocket. But Nogueira isn’t counting on that edge in the matchup. Instead, he believes “Vai Cavalo” will likely prove more motivated than ever, and Nogueira knows he must be prepared for a completely different fight.
“He’s going to use his last loss as a motivation to come back stronger,” Nogueira said. “But I kind of know the guy. I know his power. I know his game, and I will train even more.
“I know he’s going to come like that. He’s going to come for revenge, and he’s going to do his best. I think he’s going to change a little bit his strategy. I think he’s going to use a little bit more Muay Thai and ground game, so I’m going to be ready for it.”