Fedor Emelianenko I – March 16, 2003 – PRIDE 25
Result – Emelianenko W3
From 2000 to 2003, a span of 14 fights, Nogueira was unbeaten and considered to be one of the best heavyweights in the game. But no one stays on top forever, and after an exhaustive 2002 that saw him fight five times, he met his match in Russia’s Fedor Emelianenko. Yet despite a broken nose suffered early in the bout, Nogueira wouldn’t be put away by Emelianenko’s ground and pound attack, as he went on to lose a three-round decision.
Mirko Cro Cop – November 9, 2003 – PRIDE Final Conflict 2003
Result – Nogueira Wsub2
After a controversial win over former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez, Nogueira was tabbed to take on feared Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop for the interim PRIDE belt, which was in limbo due to an Emelianenko injury. And throughout the first round, Nogueira was on the receiving end of everything Cro Cop threw at him. An ugly defeat seemed to be in the cards for the Brazilian, but like a character in a monster movie, he just wouldn’t go away, and in the second round he was able to get Cro Cop to the mat. Moments later, he armbarred his opponent and wore the PRIDE championship belt once again.
Josh Barnett I – September 10, 2006 – PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute
Result – Barnett W2
From the time of the Cro Cop fight to his last bout in PRIDE, Nogueira would post an impressive 8-2, 1 NC record, an amazing feat any way you slice it. But the most memorable bout of that string wasn’t any of the eight victories, but a split decision loss to former UFC heavyweight champ Barnett, who went back and forth with Nogueira for two hard-fought rounds before being judged the victor in a fight many thought could have gone the other way.
Josh Barnett II –– December 31, 2006 – PRIDE Shockwave 2006
Result – Nogueira W3
In what ultimately turned out to be ‘Minotauro’s last PRIDE fight, he went out with a bang on the traditional New Year’s Eve show by avenging his loss to Barnett. Again, it was a closely contested battle, but with the extra third round to use to his advantage, the tireless Nogueira pulled away in the final frame, avoiding a Barnett submission attempt to pound out a unanimous decision win.
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