Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is still chugging along nicely.
The talented 34-year-old former PRIDE veteran has now won back-to-back fights since signing with the UFC.
He defeated Luiz Cane via first round TKO at UFC 106, and, most recently, Jason Brilz via split decision at UFC 114.
A much stiffer test awaits him Saturday night at UFC 119 in the form of undefeated former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader.
There’s no secret a win would vault either man into title contention and likely one subsequent win from becoming the No. 1 contender.
“Lil Nog” took some time out of his schedule on the eve of fight night to discuss his experience so far in the UFC, the controversial win over Brilz, and how he plans to deal with Bader’s offensive wrestling attack.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender: I wanted to start by asking you if you are enjoying your time in the UFC so far. Is it everything that you expected it to be?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: The UFC has been great. I have fought tough guys and there are a lot of tough fights to come. I think there are no easy fights in the UFC.
Derek Bolender: You’ve fought under all kinds of different rules and regulations throughout your career. I wanted to get your preferences on a few. Do you prefer fighting in the cage or in a ring?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: The cage allows the fight to play out without stopping. I think it’s great, especially on the ground.
Derek Bolender: Do you think the UFC should allow the kicking and kneeing to the head of a downed opponent and/or stomps like you had in PRIDE?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I think the rules now are good. I don’t see a reason to change those rules.
Derek Bolender: If the UFC gave you the option would you stay with the three five minute rounds or go back to the PRIDE format of the ten minute first round followed by two subsequent five minute rounds?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: The PRIDE format is good for when you are fighting on the ground. It gives more time to get a submission in the first round, but it takes a lot from the fighter.
Derek Bolender: Let’s go back to the night of UFC 114 for a second. Jason Brilz gets you in a tight guillotine choke in round two. Did you think about tapping? Were you in trouble?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: It was a tight choke, but I was confident I could escape. I had trained a lot of submission escapes.
Derek Bolender: When the fifteen minutes was up, and before the judge’s scorecards were read, how confident did you feel that you did enough to earn the victory?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I was confident I won the fight. Jason fought a tough fight but I was still very confident.
Derek Bolender: Were you disappointed the fans were booing the decision? How did that make you feel?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: There is always criticism. It was a tough, close fight. Jason was a tough opponent but I feel that I won that fight.
Derek Bolender: What did you learn most about yourself from that fight?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I went in to the fight looking for the knockout, but he proved to be a very tough opponent and a tough challenge. It was good to be challenged like that.
Derek Bolender: You have Ryan Bader coming up at UFC 119 on Saturday. Where has your training camp taken place for this fight?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I trained for this fight in Rio de Janeiro with my team and in Bahia with Professor Dorea.
Derek Bolender: Are you disappointed that your brother Rodrigo will no longer be able to be on the same card as you?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Rodrigo had some injuries and needed to take care of himself. His health comes first and I think he will be back stronger soon.
Derek Bolender: Will Rodrigo be in your corner on the night of UFC 119?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Yes, he is coming to Indianapolis.
Derek Bolender: Who are some of the coaches and training partners that have been helping you out the most in your preparations for the fight?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Like always, I trained under Professor Dorea who is my boxing coach. I also trained with Anderson Silva, Erivan Conceicao, Junior “Cigano,” Eder Jones, Alex Gaze, Rafael “Feijao,” all the guys at Team Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro.
Derek Bolender: Bader comes from a very solid wrestling background. He’s on a different level than Brilz. Have you focused more attention on both your offensive and defensive wrestling in your camp?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I have been training wrestling for some time now. I train a lot with Mark Munoz when I am in California and I also had some great training in Brazil to prepare for Jason Brilz.
Derek Bolender: Bader is notorious for fading late in his fights. His cardio has always been a question mark. Is this something you’re aware of and will you try to prolong the fight and test his fitness level?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I don’t know how it will play out, but I want to put on my stand up game and impose the rhythm of the fight.
Derek Bolender: Are you willing to give me a prediction? Will you win by knockout, submission, or decision?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I always look for the knockout so I will fight keep this fight standing.
Derek Bolender: What would winning a UFC belt mean to you someday?
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I want to be the champion. I have fought a lot and I want to prove I can be a great champion.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who, in addition to BleacherReport.com, has contributed to CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, and MMAmania.com. Follow him on twitter at @DerekBolender.