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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s Top-5 Career Performances

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's Top-5 Career Performances

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira battles Randy Couture
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Former UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is poised to make his return to the Octagon this week at Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi against Roy Nelson. “Minotauro” has been involved in numerous wars during a decorated career in both Pride and the UFC. I thought it would be an appropriate time to reflect on his top five career performances.

Rick Lafitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in UFC action against Brendan Schaub
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5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in UFC action against Brendan Schaub
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After being knocked out in his previous fight by current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, “Big Nog” made a triumphant return in Brazil. Nogueira delighted the partisan crowd in Rio de Janeiro by blasting out Schaub in the very first round at UFC 134 in August of 2011. Nogueira landed a huge right hand that hurt his opponent and followed up with a series of strikes to get the job done at the 3:09 mark.

4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Heath Herring

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira makes walk to the Octagon
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4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Heath Herring

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira makes walk to the Octagon
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“Big Nog” would face and defeat Herring three times during his career, but it was their first match that had historical significance. Nogueira defeated Herring at Pride 17 via unanimous decision to become that organization’s first heavyweight champion. The November 2001 contest in Tokyo produced a little bit of everything. It featured furious stand-up exchanges and showcased Nogueira’s masterful ground skills.

3. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira punches Dave Herman in UFC action
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3. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira punches  Dave Herman in UFC action
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Nogueira’s trademark has always been an ability to absorb punishment and find a way to get the job done. This was on full display against the mammoth Sylvia at UFC 81 in Las Vegas in February 2008. After absorbing plenty of damage during the first two rounds, Nogueira rallied to submit Sylvia via a slick guillotine choke in Round 3 to capture the UFC interim heavyweight title.

2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira lands punch on Randy Couture at UFC 102
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2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira lands punch on Randy Couture at UFC 102
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These two legends combined to put on quite a show in Portland at UFC 102 In August of 2009. Both competitors gave their all in a spirited and thrilling affair that was one of the sport’s best fights of the year. The fight featured tremendous stand-up exchanges, technical ground work, and huge heart from both men. It was Nogueira earning the unanimous decision victory.

1. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira celebrates UFC victory
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1. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira celebrates UFC victory
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After absorbing a severe beating at the hands of the Croatian in round 1, Nogueira pulled off the dramatic victory over Filipovic in the second round of their November 2003 encounter in Pride. Nogueira was able to lock in an armbar submission to emerge as Pride’s interim heavyweight champion.