If you are a fan of the UFC, you will be aware that there have been many epic fighters that have competed with excellent MMA skills throughout history. However, it is hard to define the best fighter. Enter, Nogueira.
Of course, you have the weight classes, but ‘best’ is a hard word to define since every fighter will specialize in different MMA fighting styles. While any good MMA fighter should have skill in multiple styles, everyone will have their fighting niche.
Some fighters may be more specialized in Boxing or Wrestling, whereas others will specialize in BJJ, Jujitsu and otherwise. You cannot choose any ‘best’ fighter, but what we can do is look through the past at the fighters that have left epic legacies in the wake of their careers.
Sure, looking to the past of these long-gone fighters doesn’t help us with the current UFC odds, but it does well to remember the fighters who shook the ring before and rocked the crowds. One of these fighters who did just that was Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, otherwise known as the ‘Big Nog’.
Who Is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira?
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira retired from MMA at 39 years of age. He was a heavyweight champ in the UFC, although he also won the World Championship in Pride as well. He was an absolute tank in the arena and became very well known by UFC fans everywhere. He was a Brazilian pioneer in the sport and when he left the game, he left it with an epic record of 34 wins, 10 losses and 1 no contest. He is also the only fighter to have won the championships at both Pride and the UFC.
- He started fighting in 1999, and continued on for 16 years and was very prominent in the field, thanks to his effective well-rounded style.
- He mastered BJJ with a niche boxing technique that was absolutely brutal in the ring and led to him being the ‘Big Nog’ of the UFC.
- He retired as a 4th degree BJJ black belt, and he has even continued in the sport by staying a leading figure at the ‘Team Nogueira’, sign he has played an important role in the careers of other champs, such as Silva.
- He went at 4-0 in his first year (1999), scoring successive submissions in the opening round.
- When he went to Rome, USA, and Georgia he met his first hardcore competition- Jeremy Horn, in his second year.
- He defeated this opponent through a unanimous decision, but his first loss came shortly after.
Nogueira’s legacy has come in the form of his epic style and his amazing abilities to defeat so many opponents. When you consider the numbers his ratio of wins was 3.4-1, which is hugely impressive in the UFC.
He did cause many of the greatest upsets in the UFC, but he also made some incredible comebacks no one is going to forget.
His main successes were fairly early on in his career, around his 10th year he started to waver a bit and that is where he caught most of his losses – in the second half of his 16-year career.
However, his legacy was never tainted, because his style and his win-loss rate was just so impressive.
Nogueira Vs Sylvia
Out of the many notable fights Nogueira had, this is one we can not resist mentioning. This fight occurred in 2008, before Nogueira started to falter a little more.
He was due to fight the former UFC heavyweight champ Sylvia. They would meet in the battle of UFC vs Pride and there was a huge title at stake.
The fight that took place between Sylvia and Nogueira has both men looking for an advantage. There were small and short punches thrown as the round started, Nogueira was rattled by a powerful right-hand uppercut.
He was then knocked down by Sylvia by another powerful hit. He jumped on Nogueira, wanting to fight on foot, Nogueira was now bloody-faced.
He fought back giving Sylvia a series of hits, as he asserted control of the right. One more huge hit crashed into his face before he finally got Sylvia onto the ground to end the round. But that was only the first round.
In the second round it was just as ropey, they exchanged jabs, but by the final round, Nogueira locked Sylvia into a guillotine and scooted him under, locking him as Sylvia tapped out. This is how Nogueira became a Pride and UFC Champion.