One of the most legendary careers in MMA history has come to a close. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueiratoday announced his retirement from competition.
“Minotauro” won’t be leaving the sport, though. The UFC announced he will assume a role in its Brazil office as an athlete ambassador. In the new job, “Big Nog,” the UFC said in an official release, will be a link between the promotion and its athletes, sponsors, media and government agencies.
“It is a great pleasure and an honor to continue my ties with the UFC,” Nogueira stated. “I always had the passion to follow the development of young athletes and I want to keep doing that. I want to help spread MMA around the world and give my contribution to the emergence and development of young talent. I appreciate the confidence that (UFC President) Dana White and (owners) Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta are banking on me, and I believe that with hard work we will achieve great results together. I know I can, and will, contribute to the growth of our sport outside the octagon.”
“‘Big Nog’ is a legend in MMA,” UFC President Dana White stated. “He is respected by fighters and fans worldwide. It has been an honor to watch him compete and I’m happy to see him retire. He will be a huge asset to the UFC, the athletes and the sport as an ambassador. I look forward to working with him in this new chapter of his life.”
Nogueira (34-10-1 MMA, 5-6 UFC), who turned 39 in June, started his MMA career in 1999 in the United States before moving on to fights in Japan for the Rings promotion, where he ultimately won its “King of Kings” tournament in 2000 with a submission win over Valentijn Overeem.
He moved on to PRIDE, where in 2001 he won the heavyweight title with a win over Heath Herring. He lost that belt to Fedor Emelianenko at PRIDE 25, just the second setback of his career. He rebounded with five straight wins, including submissions of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to win the interim PRIDE heavyweight belt, and Herring in the 2004 Grand Prix, but in the tournament’s final, against Emelianenko, he had to settle for a no-contest after an accidental headbutt. When the two heavyweight legends rematched in December 2004, Nogueira again dropped a unanimous decision.
After winning five of his next six, Nogueira signed with the UFC in 2007, and in a third fight with Herring, he won a unanimous decision. He moved on to an interim title fight against Tim Sylvia, which he won with a third-round submission. But he was stopped by Frank Mir in the second round at UFC 92 – the first stoppage loss of his career – and lost the interim belt.
The rest of Nogueira’s UFC run was up and down, but it included victories over Randy Couture in a “Fight of the Night” performance at UFC 102, a “Knockout of the Night” win over Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 and a “Submission of the Night” win over Dave Herman at UFC 153.
But it also featured losses in five of his last seven, including to eventual champion Cain Velasquez with a first-round knockout, and a submission loss to Frank Mir at UFC 140 when Mir snapped his arm with a kimura. He closed with a three-fight skid to Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve, most recently at UFC 190 a month ago.