Long before Anderson Silva became Brazil’s gift to mixed martial arts, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was the country’s most beloved fighter. On Saturday night at UFC 134, Big Nog went circa 2001 and fended off his nerves and Father Time to knockout the up-and-coming Brendan Schaub.
“When I was walking to the ring I was super nervous,” the Brazilian admitted at the post-fight press conference of competing in front of his countrymen. “I couldn’t really look up to the crowd.
“It was only after I had finished the fight that I looked up to the crowd and saw how much noise was being made.”
Nogueira is only 35-years-old, but because he’s been through countless wars during his illustrious 12-year professional career, it’s easy to see why most assume he’s much longer in the tooth. However, after getting steamrolled by Cain Velasquez in February of 2010, UFC president Dana White suggested to the living legend that it was time to call it quits.
“I talked to Nogueira after his last fight and was talking to him about retiring, and, you know, he was pretty pissed off about that,” White expressed. “That’s why when I came out and I was talking about Tito [Ortiz] and Tito won that fight [against Ryan Bader], Nogueira was one of the guys who jumped on his side saying, listen, you don’t make those [expletive] decisions, we do. That’s not really true, I do make those decisions.
“I’m not going to let this thing be boxing. When a guy is done, we know when he’d done. I don’t want to make one dollar of that kind of money. I don’t.”
Clearly, it wasn’t information the former interim UFC heavyweight champion was prepared to hear. Primarily because Nogueira claims he’s been injured the past couple of years and hasn’t been able to showcase his complete repertoire.
“I had three surgeries, I’m only human,” Nogueira shared. “I have calluses on my hands because I spent five months on crutches. Three-and-a-half months ago, I got rid of the crutches and started training. Many people didn’t believe in me.
“Of course [I never considered retiring].”
Nogueira bumped his resume up to 33–6–1 (1 NC) following last night’s impressive knockout victory. According to “Minotauro,” there’s plenty more where that came from.