Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will take to the cage at UFC on FUEL TV 10, Saturday, and will square off with Fabricio Werdum in what is the latest chapter of the fighter’s legendary career. While a 2006, unanimous decision win over Werdum at PRIDE Critical Countdown Absolute is one of the 37 year-old’s many accomplishments, here’s a look at “Big Nog’s” greatest hits.
Taking Out Mark Coleman at PRIDE 16
When Nogueira met up with Coleman in September, 2001, the former UFC heavyweight champ had re-established himself as one of the planet’s top fighters, by winning PRIDE’s Open Weight Grand Prix one year earlier. Nogueira shocked many in MMA by taking out Coleman with a beautiful triangle-choke / armbar combo, in what was just his second PRIDE appearance. The “Big Nog” era had begun.
Submitting Dan Henderson at PRIDE 24
There are only three men to date who have ever stopped future Hall of Famer Dan Henderson: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and “Big Nog”, and all three did it via submission. “Minotauro” became the first in December, 2002 when he caught Hendo with a third round, armbar. It was Nogueira’s 8th straight win with PRIDE. Impressive stuff.
His Come From Behind Win Over Mirko “Cro Cop”
When Nogueira threw down with Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in November, 2003, the K-1 vet had been busy laying waste to PRIDE’s roster and appeared unstoppable. After an opening round which saw Nogueira battered and dropped by a head kick, it looked as though “Cro Cop” would remain undefeated. Nogueira, in typical fashion, launched a comeback by taking the fight to the ground and securing a fight ending armbar. It was an instant classic.
Defeating Bob Sapp at PRIDE Shockwave 2002
Sure, by today’s MMA standards a fight between Nogueira and a super-heavyweight like Bob Sapp would immediately be scoffed at, but in August, 2002, Sapp had just transitioned into MMA. The 300 pound plus, NFL vet had crushed both of his first two MMA opponents, and at the time, even Nogueira boosters wondered how he could defeat the massive fighter.
If you’re an old school MMA fan, not only do you likely remember where you were that day, due to Sapp pile driving Nogueira seconds in (and your heart stopping at the same time), but also because of “Big Nog’s” thrilling armbar win. Arguably one of MMA’s most memorable bouts, even if the full magnitude of what transpired, cannot be captured by watching it on YouTube.
Nogueira’s Rematch Victory Over Josh Barnett
After falling by split decision to Josh Barnett in the August, semifinals of PRIDE’s 2006 Open Weight Grand-Prix, “Big Nog” went on to avenge the loss by handing the American a UD defeat on New Year’s Eve. Not only was it a memorable performance for the former PRIDE champ, but it ensured he remained at the top of the heavyweight division, and set the table for his UFC arrival.
Choking Tim Sylvia at UFC 81
UFC fans that had never witnessed a “Big Nog” comeback during his days with PRIDE, got their first chance at UFC 81, when he took on Tim Sylvia for the promotion’s interim heavyweight championship. After taking some hard shots from the former champ in round one, Nogueira took the fight to the ground in round two, pulled off a masterful sweep, and sunk in a fight ending guillotine choke. Pure Nogueira gold.
Outscoring Randy Couture at UFC 102
For some time, fans had wondered how a bout between two of the sport’s greatest legends would unfold, and in August, 2009, they got to find out. At that juncture, Couture was coming off a stoppage loss to Brock Lesnar, which had ended his latest reign as the UFC champion. Nogueira, meanwhile, was also looking to get back on track, as he had been TKO’d by Frank Mir in December, 2008. Nogueira managed to outscore Couture throughout the thrilling fight, and was awarded the UD win.
Knocking Out Brendan Schaub
“Big Nog” fans will likely never forget seeing the heavyweight KO Brendan Schaub at UFC 134, which sent the Brazilian crowd into hysterics (and reduced a jubilant Anderson Silva to tears backstage). Nogueira was competing for the first time in over 18 months after he was quickly stopped by Cain Velasquez at UFC 110. The win reassured fans and critics alike, that Nogueira’s career was far from over.
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports