The Nogueiras, arguably the most famous and successful pair of siblings in MMA history, still are recovering from individual injuries, but are expected to return to the octagon in 2014, according to manager Ed Soares.
Rodrigo Nogueira (34-8-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC), a former PRIDE and interim UFC heavyweight champion, has only fought twice over the past two years and was last seen being submitted by Fabricio Werdum in June.
The submission Werdum used to defeat Nogueira caused damage to the same arm that was disfigured by Frank Mir 18 months prior to the contest.
Some would like to see the 37-year-old hang up the gloves after alternating wins and losses in his past eight UFC contests, but his manager insists “Big Nog” will be back in action again.
“Nogueira is getting healthy and we’re going to see him fight in the first half of 2014 for sure,” Soares told MMAjunkie.
As for the other Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC), it has been just as difficult a task getting him inside the cage, but when he does, the results are positive.
Coming off back-to-back victories over former light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, it was announced “Minotoro” would take on Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson next March.
But UFC President Dana White announced the matchup before Nogueira could agree and ultimately the Brazilian wasn’t in good enough physical condition to compete.
“I think sometimes in the UFC there is a lot of moving parts and they offered the fight to me, but Rogerio was away with his brother in a place where they couldn’t get cell reception,” Soares said of the miscommunication that led to the Gustafsson-Nogueira fight announcement. “Before I was able to get ahold of them, Dana announced it.”
While Nogueira was excited to fight a man some believe defeated reigning 205-pound king Jon Jones in September, a lingering back injury has prevented him from any serious training.
Nogueira has been waiting a long time to fight Gustafsson, dating back to their originally scheduled fight in April 2012.
It’s a fight he’s wanted for quite some time; however, Soares said his client wasn’t willing to face “The Mauler” in anything less than peak condition.
“Rogerio said he would have loved to take the fight, he would have loved to take the challenge because he feels that’s where he’s at in his career,” Soares said “To fight a guy like Gustafsson, you have to be 100 percent and he didn’t want to take the risk of taking the fight and trying to fight through [the back injury] and then all of sudden not being able to fight and have to pull out of a main event.”
While back injuries can be serious and have been a persistent problem for Nogueira, he, just like his brother, won’t let health struggles stand in the way of getting back to his most familiar environment – the octagon.
“[Rogerio will] stick to physical therapy, get healthy and he’ll probably be fighting in May or June.”