During the UFC 198 pay-per-view broadcast, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was announced as the first inductee into the 2016 UFC Hall of Fame class.
Nogueira was one of 11 Brazilians to wear UFC gold and one of just three Brazilians to wear the heavyweight title.
Below is the complete press release:
UFC today announced that mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been named the first inductee for the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2016. The event will take place on Sunday, July 10, at 12 p.m. PT at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The ceremony will close out the UFC Fan Expo during the final day of the 5th Annual UFC International Fight Week. The event will also be streamed live and available on-demand exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.
“I’m really excited to announce Minotauro Nogueira as the first inductee of the 2016 UFC Hall of Fame class,” UFC President Dana White said. “Big Nog is a mixed martial arts legend and, as an icon of the sport, we couldn’t think of a more fitting platform to make this announcement then at the record-breaking stadium event in Brazil. Nogueira is a true pioneer and we look forward to celebrating his career with all the fight fans in July at the UFC Fan Expo.”
Nogueira, who was named UFC Brazil Athlete Relations Ambassador for his continued work throughout the country in September of 2015, will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a Pioneer. The Pioneers era category includes athletes who turned pro before November 17, 2000 (when unified rules were adopted), is a minimum age of 35 or has been retired for one year or more.
Nogueira, whose career spanned 15 years, boasted one of the most successful careers in MMA history. With his first professional fight in 1999, he rose to prominence in Japan with PRIDE Fighting Championship, becoming a two-time champion and capturing the organization’s first-ever heavyweight title in 2001.
Upon PRIDE being purchased by an affiliate of Zuffa, LLC in 2007, Nogueira continued his dominance by defeating Tim Sylvia at UFC 81 for the interim UFC heavyweight championship. Nogueira finished his career with an impressive 34-10-1 record, along with a reputation as one of the greatest Brazilian jiu-jitsu artists ever in the heavyweight division, as evidenced by his 22 submission victories.
A pillar in the Rio de Janeiro community, Nogueira operates an Institute along with his twin brother, current UFC athlete Antonio Rogério “Minotouro” Nogueira. Created in 2008, the “Nogueira Brothers Institute” has six locations that train underprivileged children in Brazil, using MMA as a social inclusion tool. Since its inception, the project has contributed to social development by changing the lives of many young people from communities throughout Rio de Janeiro, building exemplary citizenship and overcoming barriers.
Rodrigo and Rogério are also known for their entrepreneurial profiles. The twins own a chain of franchised Team Nogueira gyms, with 33 locations, including a gym in Dubai. In three years, Team Nogueira franchises have reached over 10,000 students.
The remaining inductees of the Class of 2016 will be announced in the coming weeks leading to the landmark UFC 200: CORMIER vs. JONES 2, on Saturday, July 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.