Hard Knocks: 10 Fighters That Define Toughness

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‘Minotauro’ Nogueira

Fight to Watch: Minotauro vs. Bob Sapp – Pride Shockwave 2002

During his time as an active heavy weight, Nogueira was a fighter’s fighter, putting in the hard work and getting hard fought wins in return. That incredible work ethic and will to win led him to become the very first Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight champion. Throughout his storied career, Nogueira took on opponents from a variety of styles, claiming victory over all but a few. Many of the bouts the Brazilian was involved in were long, tough fights against opponents like Mirko Cro Cop or Fedor, but perhaps the most compelling bout was a back and forth ‘freak show’ fight against Bob Sapp in 2002.

After surviving a piledriver from the 350-pound Sapp, ‘Big Nog’ weathered another storm in the form of a ground and pound barrage. Nogueira hung tough, absorbing shots but not losing focus as the heavily muscled Sapp began to tire. Once an opportunity presented itself, ‘Minotauro’ took dominant position and secured the tap via arm bar.

That bout, along with countless others, showed fans why Nogueira’s fortitude was something to behold.