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Fighting on the same card is a blessing for Nogueira brothers

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in back-to-back bouts at UFC 140

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

UFC fighters Tito Ortiz, left, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira stare each other down following their weigh-in, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, in Toronto. The two are scheduled to fight in UFC 140 on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Dana White fireside chat part 1

Dana White fireside chat part 2

TORONTO — For as much as their career paths have followed each other’s, twin brothers Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira haven’t fought on the same card together very often.

Saturday’s UFC 140, which is scheduled to start at 2:45 at the Air Canada Centre, will mark only the sixth time the Nogueiras have performed alongside each other and first in the octagon.

Rodrigo, more often referred to as “Big Nog”, meets Frank Mir in the heavyweight co-main event. Rogerio, or “Little Nog”, appears in the bout before against former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.

“It’s a good vibe and good energy to fight the same day as my brother,” Rodrigo said. “We stay in the same locker room. We did that a couple times in Japan and I miss that. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Rodrigo (33-6-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Rogerio (19-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) agreed that it was beneficial when they fought on the same night. Their history would support the claim.

They’ve gone a combined 7-3 when they fight together. The last time came in July 2006 when the pair scored two of their more notable victories in PRIDE.

Rogerio defeated Alistair Overeem via TKO minutes before Rodrigo took a decision over Fabricio Werdum. Beating Ortiz and Mir, two of the most famous fighters in the UFC, Saturday night would even surpass their dual accomplishment from 2006.

“We have two tough fights that night, but since I fight first I have the opportunity to put on a great fight and motivate my brother,” Rogerio said. “I think I’ll do that.”

Win or lose, Rogerio will get in position to watch his brother. Although Rodrgio will be preparing for his own bout while Rogerio performs, he’ll keep an eye on the screen in his locker room.

The comfort the Nogueira brothers feel on fight night when both are competing is a luxury, but the real advantage comes in their training. It allows them to keep the same schedule and help each other.

“Actually for this fight, Frank is left-handed and Rogerio too,” Rodrigo said. “So I used my brother a lot for sparring and he used me because I’m right-handed.”

Rodrgio first rose to fame in mixed martial arts by winning the PRIDE heavyweight championship in 2001. Rogerio was just starting to fight professionally at the time, but it wasn’t long before Little Nog joined Big Nog in Japan.

They spent five years competing together in PRIDE before Rodrigo moved to the UFC in 2007. Rogerio would follow two years later.

Although they both remain stars, neither Big Nog nor Little Nog has dominated in the UFC like they did earlier in their careers. Big Nog captured the interim heavyweight title three years ago, but has gone 2-2 since with lopsided knockout losses to Mir and Cain Velasquez.

Little Nog won in his first two octagon appearances, but has since endured the first two-fight losing streak of his career with decision defeats against Phil Davis and Ryan Bader.

“This is a very important fight,” Rogerio said. “I’ve lost my last two fights and I’ve wanted to fight Tito for a while. I’m not going to let this chance slip by me.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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