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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 Emelianenko.

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: 32-5-1

UFC Record 3-1-0

  • UFC 73: (7/7/07) Antonio defeated Heath Herring by unanimous decision at the end of the Third Round.

  • UFC 81:(2/2/08) Antonio defeated Tim Sylvia by submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:28 in the Third Round. Becomes the interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.

  • UFC 92: (12/28/08) Antonio lost to Frank Mir by TKO at 1:54 in the Second Round.

  • UFC 102: (8/29/09) Antonio defeated Randy Couture by unanimous decision at the end of the Third Round.

Official Website: www.minotauro.net

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