Antônio Nogueira: biography
The Brazilian mixed martial artist Antônio Nogueira nicknamed Minotauro earned his fame as the Japanese promotion Pride Fighting Championships member; he used to be its champion in the early 2000s. Few athletes can boast Pride and UFC titles; Nogueira is one of them.
Childhood and youth
The would-be MMA star was born in summer 1976 in Vitória da Conquista, Brazil. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira was an active child, and the parents took their four-year-old son and his twin brother (now a UFC fighter) to a Judo school. At the age of 23, the young man gained a black belt in this sport.
Antônio began to do martial arts early but had to stop at ten: the boy was hit by a truck and spent four days in a coma; his survival was a miracle. As a result, Antônio lost a part of his liver and a rib; the next eleven months were marked with hospital treatment. The athlete still has a scar on his back.
Despite this ordeal, Antônio recovered and renewed his judo training; he also joined a boxing club with his best friend at 14. The interest lasted for four years; 18-year-old Nogueira switched to Jiu-Jitsu. He was more successful in this sport and earned a black belt five years later.
Mixed martial arts
Before Antônio Nogueira became a professional MMA athlete, he won many international competitions. At 23, he debuted at the World Extreme Fighting 6 and faced David Dodd to win in the first round.
Several matches later, the sportsman went to Japan to participate in RINGS promotion's King of Kings 1999 against the Dutch Valentijn Overeem and Russian Yuriy Kochkine. Both meetings were favorable for the Brazilian.
The next fight against Andrei Kopylov showed the man’s experience and strength; the jury gave him the victory. While the beginning was pretty good, Antônio should not have let his guard down: the next opponent, Dan Henderson, defeated him.
The misfortune did not discourage the sportsman. He decided to take part in RINGS - King of Kings 2000 and crashed the Russian athlete Achmed Labasanov and the Japanese Kiyoshi Tamura by the armbar submission. Nogueira also surpassed Volk Han and Valentijn Overeem during this event. Eventually, Antônio became the RINGS promotion's King of Kings champion.
When the RINGS federation was closed, Nogueira joined PRIDE; his debut took place in summer 2001. Within two years, the man had no loss. The audience still remembers his impressive fights against the Canadian Gary Goodridge, the Americans Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, and Bob Sapp, the Dutch Semmy Schilt, and the Japanese Sanae Kikuta.
Nogueira was a strong opponent for many athletes and held his champion title for two years. He lost it in 2003 during the PRIDE 25 Body Blow in Japan. On March 16, Antônio faced the Russian Fedor Emelianenko. Although Rodrigo endured all the attacks, it was evident that Emelianenko dominated the match, and the jury’s decision was unanimous; Nogueira failed.
Further on, the Brazilian had five victories in a row, including the defeat of the former UFC champion Ricco Rodriguez.
PRIDE Final Conflict 2004 gave Antônio another opportunity to meet Emelianenko. Four years later, the men bumped into each other’s heads, and Fedor had his eyebrow cut severely; he could no longer continue. The new match was scheduled for December 2004, but Antônio lost again. The bitter results were sweetened by four upcoming victories, though.
The news about Nogueira’s transfer to UFC was announced in April 2007. He debuted in summer and fought against the American Heath Herring; Antônio won. Soon, he surpassed Tim Sylvia. The next rival turned out to be a tough one: Frank Mir showered Nogueira in blows and defeated him in the second round.
Six months later, the sportsman rehabilitated himself and defeated Randy Couture; the jury’s decision was unanimous. In February 2010, another misfortune happened: the Brazilian was destroyed by Cain Velasquez’s hits at the second minute of the first round.
The following results were mixed: a victory, a loss, another victory. The last matches in the man’s career were failing. In 2015, Nogueira announced he quitted the sport; he was going to work in a different sphere and select candidates for the UFC in Brazil.
There is little information about Antônio’s personal life. According to some Internet sources, the athlete is married and has a daughter; whether it is true is unknown. Judging by the pictures on social network pages, Nogueira is seeing the Brazilian model Amanda Griebel; she might be his wife.
The sportsman loves children and frequently shares the photos with his nephews.
Three years after Antônio retired, the media speculated that the athlete was preparing for another fight. It never took place, though.
What the former champion is doing now is unknown; sometimes, the man visits competitions as a guest. Judging by his Instagram pictures, Nogueira has not stopped practicing: he works out in the gym. Besides, the athlete comments on significant MMA events on his social network pages.
Antônio Nogueira’s net worth is $3 million in 2019.
Titles and achievements
- 1999 – black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- 1999 – black belt in Judo
- 2000 – WEF Heavyweight champion
- 2001 – RINGS Heavyweight champion
- 2001-2003 – PRIDE Heavyweight champion
- 2004 – Grand Prix PRIDE Heavyweight finalist
- 2006 – Grand Prix PRIDE Open Weight semi-finalist
- 2008 – Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion