Now that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has made it known he will be fighting at UFC 134 in Rio this summer, there are at least two UFC heavyweights sitting by the phone waiting for an invitation to join him.
Mirko " Cro Cop" Filipovic and Brendan Schaub have each made his interest in the fight known. Earlier this month, Nogueira’s boxing coach Luis Dorea told a Brazilian publication he personally hoped for Filipovic. Filipovic responded during an interview with Fighters Only that he also wanted the fight.
But Schaub and his management still believe he’s the most deserving of the fighting Nogueira in the legend’s home country. The former “Ultimate Fighter” cast member is on a four-fight win streak, including a knockout win over Filipovic in March.
“We are lobbying daily for the fight,” said Schaub’s manager Lex McMahon in a text to ESPN.com. “As of now, we have not been offered the fight. We are optimistic that if [Nogueira] is healthy, Brendan has a good shot to be his opponent in Brazil.
“Also, I’m a huge Cro Cop fan and have tremendous respect for him, but it seems a stretch that Cro Cop would fight [Nogueira] in Brazil after Brendan knocked him out with one of the most vicious KOs I’ve ever seen. Brendan is one of the most dominant fighters in the division and we’re hopeful the UFC will reward him with the great honor of fighting in Rio.”
Nogueira hasn’t fought since February 2010, when he was knocked out in the first round by current heavyweight title holder Cain Velasquez. Surgeries to his hip and knee have led to the longest inactive period in the 34-year-old fighter’s career.
Filipovic is coming off back-to-back knockout losses for the first time in his storied 10-year career. The most recent, a third round stoppage at the hands of Schaub at UFC 128, prompted UFC president Dana White to speculate it was "probably" his last fight with the promotion.