Twin bill for fighting brothers

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:04 PM ET

It's not the brutal cold that will have Antonio Rogerio Nogueira racing out of Calgary early tomorrow morning.

It's the dream opportunity that awaits his twin brother, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Rodrigo Nogueira, known in the mixed martial arts world as Minotauro, will face Tim Sylvia for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 81 in Las Vegas tomorrow night.

"I think they're gonna have fun," said Nogeuira last night. "I think my brother will try to put him on the ground, to make a submission.

"I think he's gonna win."

Before then, the MMA fighter has a bit of business of his own to attend to: A Hardcore Championship Fighting match against Todd Gouwenberg, the headline event of the Destiny event at the Stampede Corral.

Having arrived in the city during a wicked cold snap, the Brazilian -- who won a bronze medal in boxing in the super heavyweight class at the 2007 Pan American Games -- has already overcome quite the shock.

"I never saw this before. It's very cold here," he said after last night's weigh-in.

Also on hand for the card will be the legendary Randy Couture, who'll be cornering a pair of his fighters, John Alessio and Mike Pyle.

Couture, who vacated the title that's on the line in Las Vegas tomorrow night after a dispute with the association, was slated to be on-hand for last night's event, but missed his flight.

Nogueira, with a career record of 12-3, is returning to action after nearly a year and facing a combatant with a different style.

The 6-ft.-3, 205-lb. Nogueira's forte is jiu jitsu, therefore, he is more adept on the ground.

Gouwenberg, a 33-year-old from Langley, B.C., is more proficient on his feet.

"He's very tough, has good hands, a good boxer," Nogueira said. "It's gonna be a very exciting fight."

"I've watched a lot of film of him," Gouwenberg said. "He's very durable, a good boxer. He and his brother are very tough. I feel we match up really well.

"Definitely, I'm gonna keep it standing up. I think my wrestling's a little better than his. His jiu jitsu is obviously a little better than mine, but if I can be on top on the ground then stand and guard again, just keep banging him standing ... it's hard to do jiu jitsu when you're getting punched in the head."

The philosophy may not be for the squeamish, nor may the action, but Gouwenberg, whose record stands at 7-2, insists the sport that's rising in popularity deserves respect.

"A lot of people will say it's gruesome and it's too violent and this and that, but both men and women in nature are attracted to one-on-one physical combat. Always have been, always will be," Gouwenberg said.

"But people are realizing it's a sport (where) you're friends. I don't know Nogueira personally, but before the fight, I'll shake his hand, I'll give him a hug. I don't have a problem with him one bit, but when I get in the ring or the cage I have a job to do -- so does he.

"We're gonna try to knock each other out, get him to submit, win the fight, and go for a drink after if he wants."

The Destiny card begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are on sale at the Ticketmaster.

white dreams big

The UFC's Canadian debut April 19 in Montreal will be the UFC's biggest ever, president Dana White predicted yesterday.

"It's going to be crazy. Twenty-two thousand, we're going to sell it out," White said after a news conference for tomorrow's UFC 81 show in Las Vegas. "We're going to sell out the Bell Centre."

The UFC's current attendance record of 19,049 was set at UFC 68 last March at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio -- a show that produced the biggest crowd ever for a mixed martial arts event in North America.

Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra will headline the card in Montreal.

White says the early word on Canadian ticket sales is very bright. The organization is getting bombarded with inquiries.

"We've been dying to go there. Now that we're going, I think the fans are going to be insane up there. I think it's going to be great, I'm excited," he said.


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