One of the best fighters in the history of MMA has officially retired. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a former Pride and interim UFC heavyweight champion, will hang up the gloves and move onto a job with the promotion that he competed in for the last eight years. Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting has the news via Twitter:
Former UFC and PRIDE champion Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira has officially retired, will work for the UFC. Story coming to @MMAFighting.— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) September 1, 2015
Nogueira (34-10-1, 1 NC, 5-6 UFC) competed in MMA for 16 years, picking up belts everywhere he went. His first major accomplishment was winning the 2000 King of Rings tournament, and he followed that up by winning the inaugural Pride heavyweight title with a victory over Heath Herring at Pride 17. He lost the belt to Fedor Emelianenko in 2003 in an amazing bout, but was unable to reclaim it in their third bout (the second ended quickly due to an accidental headbutt).
He remained with Pride until they closed, then moved over to the UFC in 2007. In his second bout there he submitted Tim Sylvia to claim the UFC interim heavyweight title, becoming the only man to win titles in both organizations. He lost it to Frank Mir in his next bout though, and after a big win over Randy Couture, the downside of his career saw him lose five of his final seven bouts. The last came via decision to Stefan Struve at UFC 190 earlier this month.
UFC president Dana White announced Big Nog's retirement after that bout, saying that he would take a job with the promotion. Nogueira himself hadn't confirmed that though, until today.
On a personal note, Nogueira is one of my favorite fighters of all time and he is a huge part of the reason that I love this sport so much. Thank you for a great career, sir. You will be missed.
UPDATE - The UFC has issued a press release confirming the retirement and stating that Big Nog will be an "athlete relations ambassador" for UFC Brazil. Basically what Matt Hughes does. He also made a statement in the release:
“It’s a great pleasure and an honor for me to further my ties with the UFC. I’ve always had a passion to follow the development of new athletes and that’s what I intend to continue doing. I want to help further the spread of MMA around the world and give my contribution to the emergence and development of young talent. I appreciate all the confidence that Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta have in me, and I believe we will reach big results together. I know that I can, and will, contribute much to the growth of our sport outside of the Octagon.”