Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (June
2, 1976 in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil) is a heavyweight fighter in
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), known for his technical mastery of Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu and his submission victories. Nogueira is also noted to be a
proficient striker, training annually with the Cuban National Boxing
Team. He rose to fame in the Japanese PRIDE Fighting Championship
promotion, and has recently been signed by the Ultimate Fighting
Championship. He is the former PRIDE heavyweight champion, as well as
the former interim PRIDE heavyweight champion. Nogueira is currently
ranked as the world #2 heavyweight by MMA Weekly, and holds wins over
notable fighters such as Mirko Filipović,
Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Mark
Coleman, Sergei Kharitonov, Fabricio Werdum, Semmy Schilt, Ricco
Rodriguez, Bob Sapp and Jeremy Horn.
Nogueira has a twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who fights in
PRIDE's Middleweight (up to 205 lb) division. Rodrigo has a
distinguishing large scar on the right side of his back from a tractor
accident as a youth
Born in the town of Vitoria da Conquista in
Brazil, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira started training in Judo at the age of
five. He was hit by a truck when he was ten, and fell into a coma for
four days. During this time he lost a rib and part of his liver. As a
result of the accident he has a large scar on his lower back. At the age
of fourteen he was invited by a friend to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
under Ricardo de la Riva Goded. He had earlier started training some
boxing. In 1999 he was awarded with the black belt in both Judo and
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A few years after his MMA debut he started to train
at the Brazilian Top Team.
Nogueira's notable victories in Pride
include wins over Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, former UFC
heavyweight champions Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett, Mirko "Cro Cop"
Filipović, and Bob Sapp.
Following the end of Akira Maeda's Rings federation, Nogueira was signed
by PRIDE FC. He debuted in July 2001 at PRIDE 15, rapidly submitting
Gary Goodridge and former UFC and PRIDE Grand Prix champion Mark Coleman
by triangle choke and armbar. He was crowned PRIDE heavyweight champion
after defeating fellow contender Heath Herring by decision.
Defeating Enson Inoue, he next fought for Antonio Inoki's UFO
organisation, scoring his first MMA knockout against Sanae Kikuta.
He then represented PRIDE at PRIDE Shockwave, which was co-promoted with
K1, against the superheavyweight former American footballer Bob Sapp.
Sapp manhandled the much smaller Nogueira, spiking him onto the ring
canvas and dominating the fight, until tiring and falling to an armbar
submission. His battle with Sapp (who outweighed him by over 100 pounds)
made him a fan favorite for his seemingly inhuman ability to take
punishment and comeback to win.
Dutch karate fighter Semmy Schilt was his next opponent. Again heavily
outsized, he scored another victory by triangle choke. He then avenged
his sole loss at this point by submitting Dan Henderson who had
previously beaten him in Rings.
His next title defense was against Fedor Emelianenko at PRIDE 25 where
he suffered his second loss, a judges decision after Emelianenko
dominated the fight with characteristic 'ground and pound' through the
guard. Bounced back from the loss, he won a decision against former UFC
heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez. Rodriguez managed to take down
Nogueira and delivered several flying knees, but as PRIDE's scoring is
determined primarily by "effort to finish the fight by KO or submission
Damage" Nogueira's multiple submission attempts won him the
controversial decision victory.
In November 2003, with heavyweight champion Emelianenko unable to fight
due to injuries, PRIDE elected to crown an interim champion, so top
contenders Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic were matched up. Filipovic
managed to dominate the first round with his superior striking and
landed his trademark left high kick, but in the second round, Nogueira
managed to secure a takedown and roll into an armbar to submit Filipovic.
On 25 April 2004 at PRIDE Total Elimination 2004, the first round of the
2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix, he faced the unbeaten professional wrestler
and former judoka Hirotaka Yokoi, who he choked with the debut of his
anaconda chokehold. He then repeated this against Heath Herring in the
next round to advance to the semi finals where he defeated Sergei
Kharitonov with his superior boxing to face Fedor Emelianenko in the
finals. The fight was markedly different from their first, with Nogueira
able to avoid the damage he suffered from 'ground and pound' in their
first meeting, but was stopped when Emelianenko suffered a cut after an
accidental headbut and could not continue, resulting in a 'no contest'.
Another rematch was thus required, and was scheduled for PRIDE Shockwave
2004 on 31 December 2004. Despite Nogueira's improved gameplan and
striking technique, he suffered another unanimous decision loss to
At PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005 he defeated Polish Olympic Judoka Pawel
Nastula by strikes and following this, at PRIDE 31 he beat professional
wrestler and fighter Kiyoshi Tamura by armbar for the second time.
He then entered the 2006 PRIDE open weight grand prix, progressing to
the semi final by defeating fellow Brazilians Zuluzinho and Fabricio
Werdum. In the semi final, he faced the American catch-wrestler Josh
Barnett and lost to a split decision, as both had landed damaging blows
and submission attempts without managing to secure a victory. Barnett
went on to face Mirko Filipovic in the finals, submitting to punches and
kicks to the face.
Nogueira then avenged the loss to Barnett with a unanimous decision win
at PRIDE Shockwave 2006.
At UFC Fight Night 9 which took place on
April 5, 2007 Nogueira was in attendance and was sitting cage side with
UFC president Dana White.
It was announced at UFC 69 by Dana White that Nogueira had joined the
UFC, promoted as simply "Minotauro" Nogeira, much like the UFC is
promoting Mirko Filipovic as Mirko Cro Cop.
MMA Record: 32-6-1
UFC Record 3-2-0
UFC 73: (7/7/07) Antonio defeated
Heath Herring by unanimous decision at the end of the Third Round.
Antonio defeated Tim Sylvia
by submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:28 in the
Third Round. Becomes the interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.
by TKO at 1:54 in the Second
UFC 102: (8/29/09) Antonio defeated
Randy Couture by unanimous
decision at the end of the Third Round.
UFC 110: (2/21/10) Antonio lost to
Cain Velasquez by TKO at 2:20 in the First Round.