clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Reviving the Nogueira Legend

New, comments

In honor of Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira's (aka "Big Nog") big win on Saturday, Sherdog has a good feature running through the ten greatest moments of his storied career. I'm running this post in part as penance for picking Tim Sylvia to beat him, but Big Nog has always been best in the underdog role.

10) March 16, 2003: Pride 25, vs. Fedor Emelianenko
9) Dec. 23, 2002: Pride 24, vs. Dan Henderson
8) July 7, 2007: UFC 73, vs. Heath Herring
7) Aug. 15, 2004: Pride Final Conflict 2004, vs. Sergei Kharitonov
6) Feb. 24, 2001: RINGS King of Kings Finals 2000
5) Sept. 24, 2001: Pride 16, vs. Mark Coleman
4) Nov. 3, 2001: Pride 17, vs. Heath Herring
3) Feb. 2, 2008: UFC 81, vs. Tim Sylvia
2) Aug. 28, 2002: Pride Shockwave, vs. Bob Sapp
1) Nov. 9, 2003: Pride Final Conflict, vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Now you could quibble about the order of the fights, but the main point this list makes is this -- DAMN! Big Nog has had a great career already. He was a guaranteed MMA Hall of Famer before he stepped into the Octagon but now there is no doubt.

He first rose to prominence when he made the finals of RINGS 1999 King of Kings tournament, losing to Dan Henderson by decision. The next year he went all the way and won the whole thing. Then he moved over to PRIDE and beat Mark Coleman, the winner of PRIDE's biggest ever tournament the 2000 Grand Prix. Then he went on to win his next six straight fights, including getting revenge over Dan Henderson, and beating the monstrous Bob Sapp in a legendary match.

Only Fedor Emelianenko could dislodge Big Nog from his place as PRIDE heavyweight champion and the consensus #1 heavyweight in the world. But unfortunately for Nogueira, Fedor beat him handily and he did it three times (one was ruled a no contest but it was clear how things were going).

Still, Big Nog persevered and even his climb back up the ranks to rematch Fedor was dramatic, featuring as it did the legendary triumph over Cro Cop plus wins over former UFC champ Ricco Rodriguez, Heath Herring, and Sergei Kharitonov.

It's very unlikely we'll get to see Big Nog against Randy Couture, Josh Barnett (in a rubber match), or Andrei Arlovski any time soon. But we can still look forward to a rematch with Werdum, Frank Mir and maybe someday Brock Lesnar.

All of the fights on this list are worth watching but for my money the drama of his triumph over Bob Sapp is unsurpassed (the gif is Sapp powerbombing Big Nog). That complete fight is in the extended entry.

Sapp vs Big Nog Part 1

Sapp vs Big Nog Part 2