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UFC:

Nover ready for return to Octagon

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Allison Duck

Efrain Escudero, left, Ryan Bader and Phillipe Nover pose for a photo after the finale of the “Ultimate Fighter” at the Palms on December 13, 2008.

Beyond the Sun

Go ahead and make a joke to Phillipe Nover about being a male nurse.

The 25-year-old UFC fighter has heard them all and actually smiles when he listens to the one-liners.

After all, Nover is the one who always has the last laugh.

"My friends definitely poke fun at me for being a nurse," Nover said. "But it's funny watching their expression when I explain why I do it. I make a lot of money, I work with all women and I only had to study for a few years."

Of course, if the kidding ever got to be too much, there is always another way he could handle it. Nover, who has worked as a full-time nurse at Coney Island Hospital and is close to earning a bachelor's degree at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, could turn any of his friends into his patients.

While "The Filipino Assassin" doesn’t plan on inflicting permanent pain on Kyle Bradley (13-6-0) in their match this Saturday on the undercard of UFC 98 Evans vs. Machida at the MGM Grand, he’s ready to bounce back after suffering a setback in his UFC debut in December in Sin City.

After finding out he was on the card three months ago, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native made it a point to visit Las Vegas and says he can't wait to come back.

"I went out to Vegas about a month ago to get used to weather," Nover said. "I know it's hotter there now than it was when I visited but I'm excited for the fight. I feel like I'm at my peak and I can't wait to get out there and do my thing."

Nover (6-1-1) has been out of the public eye since suffering the first loss of his professional career to Efrain Escudero on last season's reality television show "Ultimate Fighter Finale."

But since the end of the show, Nover says he's been working even harder toward his dream of a UFC championship. He quit his full-time job as a nurse, moved back home with his mom and dedicated himself to his training.

"To be honest, I think I'm the busiest guy there is, at least out of all the people I know," Nover said. "I open my cell phone calendar and every day is highlighted with something I have to do, whether it's a training session, school project or a nursing shift I've picked up."

Nover has always shown a willingness to dedicate himself to mixed-martial arts. Before his appearance on "Ultimate Fighter," Nover had been training as a welterweight. But when the reality show told him it only had room in the lightweight division, Nover somehow dropped 20 pounds to make sure he'd be eligible as a contestant.

"I used to fight at 185, I actually did lose the weight because of the show," said Nover, who now walks around at 165 pounds. "I wanted to get on the show so bad. I would have chopped my leg off to drop to 165. I would have starved myself for months. I didn't care, I just wanted to get on."

Although Nover is heavily favored over Bradley, who is coming off two losses in his two previous fights, he's expecting his opponent's best, knowing that Bradley faces possibly the end of his career if he loses again.

"I believe I'm the better overall fighter, but he's fought Chris Lytle and losing to him is nothing to be hiding," Nover said. "I'm not taking him lightly, even though he is coming off those two losses. He's coming into this fight basically as his last straw. I'm sure he'll fight to the death."

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