It's no secret around these parts that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is my favorite mixed martial artist ever. I once thought that my absurd optimism regarding all things Big Nog knew no limits. But years of taking crazy amounts of punishment only to find ways to will himself to victory have appeared to catch up. His once legendarily undentable chin is gone, resulting in knockouts in two of his last three bouts (against Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez).
Despite all the problems, Nogueira says he wants to continue on for some time. Via Fighters Only:
"I am 100 per cent recovered. Some moves that previously bothered me don't mess me up anymore. The chance to fight in Rio was unique and I accepted to fight in Brazil immediately... I think it is still early to speak about retirement.
"Regardless of victory or loss, I believe I want to fight for five years and so I don't even begin to think about quitting."
I'm always concerned about combat athletes taking too much punishment over their careers and the effect that it can have on their quality of life once they do retire. So the idea of seeing Nogueira take shots from heavyweights for another five years makes me a little nervous.
But the fan in me just wants to believe that the surgeries have him straightened out and that we will get to see one more title run from one of the best heavyweights the sport has ever seen.