A long chat with Minotauro
UFC champion in exclusive interview with GRACIEMAG.com
Team Nogueira MMA at the gym / Photo: Nalty Jr.
Internet users who access GRACIEMAG.com have been yearning for more Minotauro. The MMA hero of Brazil and Japan, and now in the United States - for being the current UFC heavyweight champion called upon to star in next season's The Ultimate Fighter reality show - now lives in Florida, where he leads Team Nogueira MMA.
And as GRACIEMAG.com knows no bounds, our collaborator Nalty Junior chased Minotauro down for an exclusive interview, in which he evaluates the current MMA scene and speaks about his career in ascension in North America. Check it out.
You were voted best fighter several times and continue to be ranked among the very best. What is your secret to keeping at the top of your category for so long?
The secret is in my team's training routine, which shows through. The UFC's fight calendar is not as constant as Pride's was, so it's hard to keep up the rhythm. But whenever they book a fight we take it upon ourselves to be in shape for combat. I'm a fighter with certain experience, so I know how much I need to train to be in shape. I always keep in line with Jiu-Jitsu, I train a lot of ground positions, I have a good muay thai coach, a good boxing coach. I prepare myself well, thank God.
What do you think of Frank Mir, your next adversary?
He's a good ground fighter, of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school and has had many submissions along his career. He's an explosive fighter, so the first few minutes he is very dangerous. But I believe I'm better on the ground, I have more stamina, that's why there's a great chance that I'll have better results in this fight.
What did you think of your brother Minotouro's performance at Affliction?
I think Minotouro represented the team well. He hadn't fought since February. He managed to close the distance, throw some punches, fought well on the ground, but chose to end the fight standing. He saw his moment and ended it by knockout.
And what about the fight between Fedor and Tim Sylvia?
Fedor fought really well, was explosive and took advantage of his moment, threw some good hooks. He fought at the right distance, was able to surprise Tim Sylvia, and at 30 seconds he attacked and didn't let up.
What was shooting the UFC reality show like?
It was awesome. I got to meet several fighters from several gyms here in the USA. I had the chance to witness the growth of the sport, how much these kids are athletes. In a short time they became my friends. I saw how hard they work, all of them have the dream of singing a UFC contract. Some will make it, others won't. But all of them battled hard, grew, learned a lot of positions. It only lasted a few weeks, I sought to teach as much as I could, keep them in rhythm, in shape, and pass on all my experience. And I could see all the behind-the-camera work, the guys from Spike TV, the UFC, it's very organized. I drew a great deal from the experience.
What is Team Nogueira MMA's headquarters in Miami like?
Daniel Valverde and I began this project about four years ago, and now we managed to conclude it. We put together a gym with all the necessary infrastructure for MMA professionals and beginners, in a good part of Miami. We have an excellent structure, new team, nearly two months since opening, more than 100 students. It has everything it needs to be one of the biggest teams in Florida. And in October we'll inaugurate the Team Nogueira MMA headquarters in Dallas.
Is there already a professional athlete you can name?
The team is really new, lots of potential talent, but we still have to wait for some results.
How is your training for your fight with Frank Mir going?
It makes sense that every fight I train specifically for each adversary. I always keep up my daily training in Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling. At the UFC house, I trained hard with the guys every day, now I took two weeks off, and this week I'm getting back to my training routine. The fight should take place either at the end of November or beginning of December.
Would you like to face Randy Couture?
I would love to. When I went to the UFC, he was the champion, and my goal was to fight him and take the title. That didn't happen because of his contractual problems with the UFC. But I think this fight might still happen.
And what about Fedor, would you fight him again?
Of course. I've already fought him three times, I feel he beat me twice in these three fights. I believe in myself, Fedor really is good, but I know I have the right game to fight him. I would surely accept an offer for this fight. If he comes to the UFC, I'm ready to put my belt up for grabs against him.
What are your plans for the future?
To remain in the UFC, keep my belt for a long time, represent my country, my team Nogueira MMA. I want to continue to work on my gym and build the team.
Talks about a lot of things and I can't wait to see him back fighting and against Mir.