MINOTAURO PREPARES FOR FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE
09/06/2006

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira held a public training session in the DEEP Official Gym "IMPACT" in Okubo, Tokyo on September 5th. Nogueira will face Josh Barnett in the Semi-Final Round of PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE 2006, the Open Weight Grand Prix tournament, on September 10th in Saitama Super Arena.


Nogueira appeared in the gym more than 30 minutes before his public training session began and immediately began training under Mario Sperry's instruction. Nogueira was already covered in sweat by the time the reporters began to gather and the scene unfolding before them was more of a hard-core training session than what is usually put on for display in a public training session.
Nogueira repeatedly worked on setups for arm-locks and reverses in the case that Barnett is able to get top position. There was no explanation during the training but he also worked on some training that was clearly aimed at defending against Barnett's takedowns.
"I came to Japan yesterday and my conditioning is very good. The weather in Japan today doesn't feel like August. It's a lot like the weather in Brazil so it will be easy to maintain my conditioning," Nogueira spoke with confidence as if even the weather is one his side.
"I focused on ground work and wrestling in my training for this match with Josh because that is what he is good at. I put a lot of work into wrestling, in particular, but trained in boxing and muay thai as I always do."
Nogueira worked on a strategy for Barnett's wrestling under the instruction of Darrel Gholar, Brazilian Top Team's wrestling coach for the past 4~5 years. Gholar is a former Olympic wrestler for the United States and has dominated All-America competitions five times. Called the "Master of the Takedown", Gholar has also served as the wrestling instructor for Chute Boxe. There's little doubt that Nogueira received a lot of advice from Gholar on how to defend against Barnett's takedowns.
"Josh has some dangerous skills standing, too. I have to watch out for that and his throws. I will also have to be careful about his leg-locks," Nogueira said. Although Nogueira is showing some of his cards by revealing his concerns, it also shows his confidence. Barnett commented that his "abilities standing and in takedowns are better (than Nogueira's). If Nogueira tries for a triangle choke I'll submit him with an achilles lock," so Nogueira has likely done his research on Barnett, too.
Nogueira also laughed away Josh's comment that he is the only man in the world that can submit Nogueira. "That's going to be difficult because my submission skills are better and I am better at getting submissions," Nogueira said. Continuing, Nogueira said that Barnett's beloved submission wrestling is nothing more than a jujitsu off-shoot, "Apparently Josh said that he doesn't need jujitsu but all of his ground skills were born from jujitsu. He is doing jujitsu."
"Josh's weakness is when he's on the ground, on the bottom, and his back is flat against the mat. His movements are good there. I could tell that easily when I watched his fight with Mirko. He had a tough time, didn't he," Nogueira commented, apparently planning to block Barnett's takedowns and get top position. "If Josh gets on top, the fight may stall, so I have worked hard on my wrestling skills."
"I think my fight with Josh will be a good match. We are both ready to attack but in the end, I will submit him," Nogueira said, predicting a submission win.
Nogueira is already thinking about the Final Round, too. "I think it will probably be Wanderlei (Silva) that advances to the Final Round because he has a very strong heart. He will just keep moving forward. Mirko's techniques may be better but Wanderlei's heart is stronger and that's why he will win. The Final Round will be between Wanderlei and me, two Brazilians."
Silva, as a Middleweight, and Nogueira, and a Heavyweight, have long support PRIDE as top fighters and are symbols of strength. Both of these fighters have recognized the other's abilities and if they meet up for the first time in the Final Round, a card truly fitting the Open Weight Grand Prix will be born and the world's strongest man will be decided!