And now he’s retired. The word legend is thrown around way too much in sports but Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is an actual living legend. “Big Nog” retired from mixed martial arts and he will go down in the history books as the only man to ever hold both the UFC’s and Pride FC’s heavyweight title. The only one!
For two separate snap shots in time Nogueira was the baddest man on the planet for both of MMA’s biggest promotions ever.
A huge part of Pride’s golden age Nogueira is a consensus top five, maybe top three, MMA heavyweight of all-time. During his Pride FC run Nogueira’s fights with Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, and Mirko Cro-Cop defined epic. For his UFC years despite being well past his physical prime and watching his body give out on him more than a few times, Nogueira won a title while putting on instant classics with Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir, and Randy Couture.
Thanks for the memories Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, now let’s watch five of your best fights not available on UFC Fight Pass.
5. Minotauro vs Ricco Rodriguez
Nogueira’s jiu-jitsu to MMA grappling was a first of its kind. It was rare to see “Minotauro” test his grappling acumen outside a MMA ring in 2000. Watch Nog go head to head with future UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez at ADCC 2000.
4. Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Nate Schroeder
From October 1999 this is Big Nog’s second pro MMA fight. Also protect your arm Nate.
3. Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Sanae Kikuta
Just 20 days before his showdown with Bob Sapp at Pride Shockwave 2002, here’s Nogueira knocking out fools on a VHS tape.
2. Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Valentijn Overeem
The finals of Rings 2000 King of Kings one night tournament this is also Nogueira’s final fight before he was signed by Pride.
1. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp
Simply the ultimate Nogueira fight and measure of his heart. Sapp physically assaulted “Big Nog” for the majority of the bout before Nogueira rallied back and began cementing his legacy for insane comebacks.