On July 1st, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated fellow Brazilian jujitsu master Fabricio Werdum in the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Second Round, and advanced to the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round, to be held at Saitama Super Arena on September 10th. Nogueira, burning with desire to stand at the top of the world one more time, also wants to face Silva in the Final Round.




Pride Fighting Championships: Your physical trainer who was with you until the last event left before this event. Did that affect you? In your post-First Round interview, you were apparently focusing on your conditioning, saying that your physical training might be lacking and that you wanted to be in top physical shape by the Final Round.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: I trained with him for two previous matches (Tamura and Zuluzhino). Unfortunately, he became Wanderlei Silva's trainer from this event. Normally, I need eight weeks to prepare myself but I only had one month for this fight so my conditioning wasn't very good.
Pride: You didn't kick very much in this fight. Was there any reason for that?
Nogueira: There wasn't any reason in particular. I've been working on my boxing a lot though, so I think it was just the natural result of that.
Pride: Josh (Barnett) has wanted to fight you since he challenged you in 2002.
Nogueira: I will fight anyone, whether it's Mirko, Wanderlei or, of course, Josh. If the fans and the promoter choose my opponent, I will fight him. However, if I were going to choose my opponent, I would say that the person I want to fight the most is Wanderlei. He style is similar to mine in that we are always moving forward, attacking. It would definitely be an exciting fight. Also, Josh and I trained together at the 2002 ADCC so he already knows that I'm stronger. In reality, he probably doesn't want to fight me. (laughing)
Pride: Would you like to have a match between you and Wanderlei, two Brazilians, in the Final Round?
Nogueira: Of course, I would. I have to think about all the possibilities and I'm also thinking about a fight with Wanderlei in the Final Round. If a fight between us in the Final Round happens, it will be a good chance for us to show the strength of Brazilians to the world. Fedor and I fought in the Final Round of the last Heavyweight Grand Prix. Shogun and Arona fought in the Final Round of last year's Middleweight Grand Prix and Murilo and Henderson fought in the Final Round of the Welterweight Grand Prix. Looking back, there have always been Brazilians in the Final Round of the PRIDE Grand Prix and there will be Brazilians in the Final Round of this Open Weight Grand Prix.
Pride: So, you want to fight Wanderlei in the Final Round and show the strength of Brazil?
Nogueira: People in the world think of Brazil as a nation of soccer but I think of it as the land of PRIDE. I want to prove that.
Pride: That would be an extremely intriguing match up as both of you have continued to support PRIDE as symbols of PRIDE's strength and you are both experts in your respective fields of grappling and striking. However, Mirko also seems to want a rematch with you.
Nogueira: I think that would be an interesting fight, too. We have both fought for the belt before. I think it would be interesting for Mirko and I to fight for the right to challenge Fedor for the Championship belt.
Pride: Finally, a message for the fans before the Final Round!
Nogueira: I will definitely advance to the Championship Round. I want to show my strength, the strength of Brazilian Top Team and the strength of Brazilians to the world. Additionally, I intend to sit on the Champion's throne once again. Wait for the new Champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira!