Top Six Moments In ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira’s Legendary Career

rodrigo pride champ

There’s mixed emotions about the retirement of Pride FC and UFC legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The former heavyweight champion of the golden era of MMA called it quits on a 16 year career this week, and took a job as UFC ambassador for his home nation of Brazil. There’s both relief that we won’t have to see the fan favorite take any more unnecessary punishment in the twilight of his career, but also nostalgia as we look back over his illustrious MMA career.

Fighting in Brazil, America, Japan, Australia, Abu Dhabi and Canada, ‘Minotauro’ became renowned for his insane durability and ability to beat foes in the most unlikely scenarios. As well as his MMA career, Nogueira’s combat lifestyle included multiple medals in Jiu Jitsu tournaments, leading to his 4th degree black belt in the art and multiple gyms opened under his name. Notable students include Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, The Freire brothers, Lyoto Machida, Jose Aldo and many more.

To pay tribute to Antonio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira’s venerable fighting history, we’ve compile the top six moments of his time as a warrior.

Without further ado, check out the Top Six Moments In ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira’s Legendary Career…..

antonio rodrigo nogueira

6. King of Kings tournament 2000

After falling short in his first attempt at the Rings: King of Kings Tournament in 1990 vs. Dan Henderson, at the time 10-1-1, Nogueira defeated Achmed Labasanov and Kiyoshi Timura on the same night in 2000 to advance to the February 2001 finals stage. The Japanese event pitted ‘Big Nog’ against Volk Han and Hiromitsu Kanehara, also on the same night, both of whom Nogueira dominated to reach the evening’s tourney final.

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The older brother of Alistair Overeem, Valentijn was fresh off a submission victory over future hall of famer and UFC champion Randy Couture. ‘Minotauro’ took only 80 seconds to finish Overeem, in a victory that would pave the way for Nogueira’s legendary status in Japan, and pretty much sealed the deal for the start of his Pride FC tenure.

Check out the slick submission over Valentijn Overeem at the Rings: King of Kings 2000 finals, in his third fight on the same card, and click to the next article to see where Nogueira’s Pride FC career really kicked off…

antonio rodrigo nogueira pride fc champion

5. Inaugural Pride heavyweight championship

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Heath Herring fought three times over their careers, but their first and most meaningful meeting was one of the greatest moments in ‘Big Nog’s’ fighting history. The first ever Pride FC championship was on the line, and Nogueira (14-1-1) was coming off submission wins over Mark Coleman and Gary Goodridge. Herring was, at the time, one of the top heavyweights in the game.

‘Texas Crazy Horse’ had just destroyed two-time UFC tournament winner Mark Kerr at Pride 15, and was heavily favored by many pundits of the time. Nogueira’s decision win saw him crowned the first ever champion of the Japanese promotion’s heavyweight category, a title he would hold until his gutsy decision loss to Fedor Emelianenko in 2003.

Check out the Pride 16 submission win over Mark Coleman that led to Nogueira’s Pride 17 championship win below, and skip to number four to hear about Nogueira’s next Pride title win….

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4. Nogueira vs. Mirko Cro Cop 

After bouncing back from only his second career loss (Fedor) with a victory over Ricco Rodriguez in the same year, now 21-2-1, ‘Minotauro’ took on undefeated Croatian striking sensation Mirko Cro Cop at Pride Final Conflict 2003. The interim heavyweight championship was on the line, and Nogueira showed up determined to get back on track.

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The Brazilian grappling ace did not disappoint, as he submitted Filipovic in the second round of their 2003 ‘Fight Of The Year’ winner. This was undoubtedly the pinnacle of Nogueira’s time in the Pride organization, a now two-time champion of the largest MMA promotion at the time.

Check out Nogueira’s 2003 victory over Cro Cop below, from ringside camera angles, and skip to number three for ‘Big Nog’s’ transition to UFC champion….

antonio rodrigo nogueira fight video

3. UFC interim championship win against Tim Sylvia

Minotauro’ crossed over successfully to the UFC with a third win over Heath Herring in 2007, and entered an interim heavyweight championship bout against Tim Sylvia with a stellar 30-4-1-1NC record. Sylvia was the former two-time heavyweight champion and had a 24-3 tally going in to the fight at UFC 81.

The win was a landmark step in the Brazilian star’s journey, as he captured the interim belt with a picture perfect guillotine choke. It was the third major promotion that Nogueira had won a title for, and also marked the last victory he’d ever score in a championship fight.

Check out the win over the ‘Maniac’ below and check out one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time at number two…

nogueira vs couture fight video

2. Nogueira vs. Couture

One of the greatest UFC heavyweight fights ever, Anotnio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture pitted two former champions and future hall of fame inductees against each other at UFC 102. It was 2009 and Nogueira had just lost the interim strap to Frank Mir by TKO in heartbreaking fashion and he needed a big win to get his name back in the mix.

Always game for a good fight, ‘Captain America’ came in all guns blazing, as did his Brazilian counterpart at UFC 102, and it made for classic viewing. ‘Big Nog’ took the unanimous decision in the FOTN winning five-rounder, and reminded fans that he could still dig deep and bring out the vintage ‘Minotauro’ that we’d all grown accustomed to.

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Check out the Nogueira vs Couture video below, and skip to the number one greatest moment of ‘Big Nog’s’ career, as admitted by the man himself….

nogueira vs schaub knockout video

1. Nogueira takes out Schaub at UFC 134

Now before you rip my head off for putting the win over Brendan Schaub at number one, ‘Minotauro’ himself quoted this moment as the greatest of his MMA career. Down on his luck following a KO loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 110, many questioned Nogueira’s motives to continue fighting when he got booked against heavy-handed ‘Big Brown’ at UFC 134 in Brazil.

Anderson Silva fought at the head of the card, and fellow legend Shogun Rua also fought on the 2011 event in Rio De Janeiro. This was the UFC’s big return to Brazil, the first time since their 1998 show featuring Vitor Belfort vs Wanderlei Silva. The crowd was electric, and an emotional Nogueira came out and got the job done with his fists.

It was vintage Nogueira, the legend we all knew and loved, and it made the greatest moment of his MMA career, ironically with so little in terms of ranking and championships on the line.

Re-live the amazing moment below, and skip to the next page for honorable mentions and the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s MMA highlights video….


Honorable mentions

Nogueira’s final win-2012 submission over Dave Herman, who had said that Jiu Jitsu didn’t work on him.

Biggest crowd-100,000 in attendance to watch Nogueira submit Bob Sapp after he was slammed on his head by the giant ex-footballer.

Tied with Kazushi Sakuraba for most submissions in Pride FC history (11).

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira MMA highlights

We salute you Minotauro!