Imagining an MMA Hall of Fame: The Shoo-Ins

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

By Todd Martin Aug 3, 2014
Heart is the strongest of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s many gifts. | Photo: D. Herbertson/

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
World Extreme Fighting (1999, 2000); Rings (1999, 2000-01); Pride Fighting Championships (2001-02, 2002-06); Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (2002); Ultimate Fighting Championship (2007-Current)


Nogueira was a tremendously skilled performer with some of the best heavyweight jiu-jitsu ever and underrated boxing, but he is best known for the heart he displayed in fights. On the short list of the greatest MMA comebacks of all-time are two separate Nogueira bouts: his remarkable armbar victories over Mirko Filipovic and Bob Sapp, the latter occurring when Sapp most epitomized his billing as “The Beast.” Those performances have made Nogueira a universally respected and beloved icon of the sport. Fedor Emelianenko’s style was perfectly designed to counter Nogueira’s strengths, and if it were not for the Russian juggernaut, “Minotauro” might be considered the greatest heavyweight in history to this day.

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