Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is back, but not in an MMA cage.
The former PRIDE and UFC light heavyweight has decided to end his retirement to take up boxing, facing fellow octagon veteran Leonardo Guimaraes in a professional match Sunday night in Brazil. Speaking on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast free exchangehe described the process of coming back to another stage.
“Boxing is different, but it’s something I love to do because I’ve boxed before and I know what it felt like to be in an amateur boxing match,” said Nogueira. “But this time it’s a professional match, it’s my debut at the age of 45. I consider myself an experienced man and I love getting into a ring-to-box.”
Nogueira competed in boxing in the closing moments of his PRIDE career, qualifying for the 2007 Pan American Games and winning a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. Returning to MMA is “more difficult” because it includes other arts such as wrestling, jiu-jitsu and muay thai and could lead to more injuries at his age, he said, so boxing felt better.
“I quit MMA and am starting a new run in boxing,” he said. “I’m starting all over again and want to embrace this opportunity, but no pressure. I won’t fight to win a decision, I want to go for the knockout from start to finish. I’m turning 46 this year and you’re not in the same condition, so I’ll have to use my experience.”
If everything goes according to plan, “Minotouro” said he definitely wants to “do more” in the future.
“Vitor Belfort has fought well, Anderson Silva puts on a show,” said Nogueira. “[Silva] did that fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a tough fight against a tough guy, then dismantled Tito Ortiz. Who knows… I’m the same age. I hope all goes well, my star shines and the left hand lands on Sunday [laughs].”
Nogueira is happy to return to boxing in his home country, but does not rule out playing in the United States afterwards. In fact, “Minotouro” has a wish list of possible boxing matches he’d like to do, and it mixes up boxing legends and popular YouTubers.
“We can fight great fights,” he said. “Someone like Roy Jones Jr. for example, a former champion. Or maybe a fight with Mike Tyson [laughs]. We have to dream big, right? You see Jake Paul and Logan Paul doing a great job knocking people out. They are fast. They are YouTubers, but they are athletes. You have four great options there.
“Or maybe a former UFC champion, someone like Chuck Liddell. I do not know. You have to see their age. But I think these are chances people have of seeing a former UFC champion in action boxing with someone of my level of boxing. It would be entertaining.”
Asked if Mauricio Rua would be an option after sharing cages and rings with him three times in PRIDE and UFC, “Minotouro” loves the idea. The Bahia native lost close decisions in all three fights, including his retirement from Abu Dhabi in 2020, and is inviting Rua, who is still under contract with the UFC, to reverse it.
“It would be nice, huh?” said Nogueira with a smile. “Would he do it? Would he take up this challenge? Let’s do it, Shogun. It would be a great fight, man. It would be a show according to the boxing rules.”
No matter who he faces in the future, Nogueira is just happy to end his square circle martial arts career after a storied 19 year career in MMA with wins over the likes of Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Kazushi Sakuraba, Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz.
“I would end” [my career] with a blush,” he said. “To come back and end my career with boxing matches, there might not be a better way to end with a career.”