Perhaps no one in mixed martial arts history built more equity in
terms of reverence and respect than Antonio
Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder was a
toxic blend of competitive fire, inhuman toughness and technical
skill that kept him relevant at the sport’s highest level for more
than a decade. Nogueira made his debut under the World Extreme
Fighting banner in June 1999, won 19 of his first 21 fights—he
started his career 19-1-1—and established himself as one of the
greatest heavyweights of all-time. In one of his many signature
moments, “Minotauro” on Aug. 28, 2002 took on the monstrous
at Pride Shockwave before 91,107 fans at Tokyo National Stadium.
Sapp, who stood 6-foot-5 and outweighed his counterpart by more
than 120 pounds, administered a brutal beating for the better part
of four minutes, only to find himself surrendering to an armbar
from the resilient Nogueira. The Brazilian’s legend only grew from
Now four-plus years removed from Nogueira’s final appearance, here
are five things you might not know about him:
1. He was a picture of consistency.
Nogueira did not suffer back-to-back defeats at any point in his
career until he lost his last three fights before his retirement.
Meanwhile, he pieced together five different winning streaks of
various lengths: three fights, four fights, five fights, six fights
and 13 fights.
2. The path of least resistance was rarely an option.
“Minotauro” beat six former
Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders during his
remarkable career: Mark Coleman,
Werdum, Josh Barnett,
Sylvia and Randy
Couture. The eight men who defeated him—Barnett, Werdum,
Emelianenko (twice), Frank Mir
Velasquez, Roy Nelson
Struve—have a combined 214 wins between them.
3. He found a home away from home.
Nogueira was one of only five fighters to win a divisional
championship in Pride. The others were Emelianenko, Henderson,
Silva and Takanori
Gomi. Nogueira compiled a stellar 17-3 record inside the
4. He was a menace on the mat.
A fifth-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Carlson Gracie
disciple Ricardo De La Riva, Nogueira delivered 21 of his 34 career
victories by submission and utilized a variety of techniques in
doing so. He recorded 10 wins by armbar, three by triangle choke,
two by anaconda choke, one by guillotine choke, one by triangle
armbar, one by keylock, one by rear-naked choke, one by
arm-triangle choke and one by crucifix.
5. He saw the sights.
Nogueira fought in six different countries as a professional mixed
martial artist: the United States, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada
and the United Arab Emirates. He went 26-4-1 in Japan, 6-1 in
America, 2-2 in Brazil, 0-1 in Canada, 0-1 in Australia and 0-1 in