Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira retired this year after a spectacular 16 year MMA career.
Some fans may have forgotten just how spectacular he was.
The Brazilian ended his days as a fighter after a string of losses in the UFC, but he was once considered the greatest heavyweight on the planet — back during his days with PRIDE in the early 2000’s. His later career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship was riddled with injury, and may have ended with a string of losses; but they also included more than a few highlights. Among them was a 2008 win over Tim Sylvia to earn the UFC interim heavyweight title.
So, if you want to know what a great heavyweight looks like, his film is a great place to start.
Still, if you’re wondering what price you pay for becoming one of greatest heavyweights in MMA history? Well, Nogueira has you covered too.
The fighter, who now serves the UFC under the title Athlete Relations Ambassador, revealed he has needed a total of 22 surgeries in this “fighting life” during a roundtable discussion in Rio last week.
“I have done a total of 22 surgeries; I’m all broken,” Nogueira said, as transcribed by Marcelo Alonso at Sherdog.com. “I started my surgery career early, at 11 years old when I was hit by the truck. However, the last five years were more difficult. I had eight surgeries. I have 16 metal screws in my right arm, from the elbow to the shoulder, and they are extremely painful at the beginning of a training camp and also when the temperature changes. I also had a surgery on my left arm and two on my hips. Those four surgeries were pivotal in my decision to retire.”
Among Nogueira’s more recent injuries, per a doctor who was hosting the discussion, was a torn knee ligament sustained in the days prior to 2014 bout with Roy Nelson.
Not surprisingly, he lost that bout by first round knockout.