Heavyweight MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira made his name in the now buried PRIDE FC promotion before moving to the UFC in 2007 upon the UFC-initiated dissolution of the Japanese fighting organization.
Known for his incredible durability, Nogueira won his first UFC bout by beating Heath Herring for the third time (by decision, despite getting knocked silly in the first round). From there he would go on to challenge Tim Sylvia for the Interim Heavyweight Title in a fight that would see Nogueira survive a three round drubbing on the feet only to pull guard and submit the striking giant.
Unfortunately, the proud Brazilian went on to sandwich an impressive decision win over Randy Couture in between one sided knockout losses to Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez.
Many see Nogueira as having lost a step due to the damage he has accrued over a lengthy career defined by overcoming immense amounts of punishment. Nogueira, despite being obviously disappointed in the result of his last fight (against Velasquez), isn’t ready to hang up the 5 ounce gloves yet.
“Even though I’ve lost my fight I’ll always keep my head up,” said Nogueira in a video interview posted on MMAMania. “I’ll be returning to the top again and I’ll try to be the champion again in this division.”
Nogueira blames the loss on the fact that anyone who steps in the cage against another heavyweight is risking a potential knockout.
“Unfortunately, I’m coming out of a very bad result [in] my last fight,” he siad. “I know it happens, we are two heavyweights. I went to strike [with] him [in] my fight…I was defeated.”
Although he is remaining positive and is determined to return to the Octagon, Nogueira is taking his time and focusing on opening a new gym and coaching his teammates right now.
“Big Nog” will be traveling to Abu Dhabi this weekend to corner his teammate Anderson Silva for his fight against Demian Maia at “UFC 112: Invincible”. Also on the books for the oldest Nogueira brother are plans to open a new training facility in San Diego, CA where he and his teammates can prepare for stateside fights on U.S. soil.
It is hard to determine whether “Minotauro” is starting his slow decline toward retirement or if his last fight was just a case of a bad style matchup against a hungry young heavyweight. Having survived a run in with a farm truck as a child and bounced back to become a world champion MMA fighter, it is likely unwise to write Nogueira off just yet. Rematches against fellow PRIDE veteran Mirko Filipovic or former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir would make sense for Nogueira and would help determine where he sits in the UFC’s heavyweight division, as would a bout against fellow Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga.