It's hard to think of a fighter who is widely considered a top 3 Heavyweight of all time, and one of the best jui jitsu games in MMA as being under appreciated. Big Nog is always mentioned as having the most heart-coming back from the brink of death to pull off a submission, or an incredible chin, but the area I believe he is under appreciated in is his excitement level.
If you we're asked to name the most exciting fighters in MMA, most lists would share a bunch of common names. Anderson Silva, the Diaz brothers, Condit, Chan Sung Jung, Cerrone, Guillard etc. Big Nog isn't the type of fighter who is brought up in these discussions. But if you take a look at his fight history, it's difficult to see boring performances.
Dave Herman- Submission of the Night- it's always awesome to see Noguiera get a submission win, even crazier when it's in Brazil, and it's always hilarious to see Herman lose, especially by submission.
Frank Mir- Mir wins Submission of the Night and Submission of the Year from both UFC.com and ESPN's MMA awards. This one is tough to watch, but exciting nonetheless. Big Nog had the upset in the bag. He was on his home turf. He had Mir as close to unconscious as you can be. Instead of pounding away, he went for the submission which Mir defended, hen countered with his own. One of the most incredible fights I've ever seen, but the winner was not the one most were rooting for.
Brendan Schaub- Knockout of the Night. Borrowing some words from the Herman section: seeing Schaub lose like that is kinda funny. Once again, Big Nog was the underdog. Schaub's awful striking defense led to another brutal knockout. This one was special for Nogueira because it was the UFC's return to Brazil, and he was an underdog (ranging from +145 to +220) and he was facing a fight who can get cocky and ahead of himself at times. The win was awesome, the photoshops were especially hilarious.
Cain Velasquez- Cain wins Knockout of the Night. Yep. What we don't often remember was Nog was a favorite here, and it was a Heavyweight Title eliminator. Still tough for me to watch. As Cain dropped him I was telling my friends that he never gets knocked out. I felt dumb.
Handy Couture- Fight of the Night, Fight of the Year. An awesome battle between the two old Heavyweights. Just a fun fight even if it was t that relevant.
Frank Mir- Yep. Interim UFC Heavyweight fight.
Tim Sylvia- Fight of the Night, won Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. One of the most incredible submissions I've seen. The way he baited Tim into the guillotine was a thing of beauty, and something that gets mentioned by the commentary team every time he's on the ground with someone.
AND that's just the UFC. It's easy to see how exciting he is partly because of their awards systems so I talked about that first. His Pride career is just as crazy. His battles with Fedor are legendary, even if they were a bit one sided. His submissions of Cro Cop and...ahem...Bob Sapp always stick out to me as two of the most exciting fights I've ever seen. His entire career is riddled with awesome submissions over great fighters. So here's to you, Big Nog. He always comes to fight, and the result is always incredible. One of my most exciting fighters of all time.