UFC Faces A Tough Call With Legendary Heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Brazilian heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira isn’t ready to bring an end to his legendary fighting career. “Minotauro”, who was blasted out in the first round in devastating fashion by Roy Nelson at Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi, wants to fight inside the Octagon at least one more time.
His desire to continue will be an interesting situation for the organization to deal with, as UFC President Dana White is on the record as saying he never wants to see Nogueira fight again.
What we do know is that it will be quite some time until “Big Nog” is ready to compete again. The former UFC interim heavyweight champion and Pride legend requires surgery for a torn ACL. It’s just the latest in a string of injuries that the veteran has had to endure in the last few years. He says he suffered the injury during training just a few days before the fight against “Big Country.”
The 37-year old Nogueira has only been able to compete inside the Octagon on 10 occasions since joining the promotion back in 2007. His record is a very average 5-5 and the concerns over his wellbeing stem from the fact that he’s been finished in all five of those losses. He also suffered knockout losses against current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir and sustained a broken arm and ligament damage in submission losses to Mir and top contender Fabricio Werdum. He’s undergone multiple surgeries in the last few years.
Like any combat sport, it tends to be left up to the fighter and his handlers to make the difficult decision regarding retirement, but Nogueira maintains that he simply got caught by a big puncher in Nelson and wants to press on. There’s no doubt Nelson is one of the most devastating punchers in the division, but Nogueira’s body seems to be wearing down from all of the wars he’s been involved in.
There has been talk from the Nogueira camp that they would be interested in a third fight against Mir. The former UFC heavyweight champion is currently on an extended break from competition. Mir took a beating at the hands of Alistair Overeem at UFC 169 and is currently on a four-fight losing streak. Mir has been knocked out in two of those losses.
White has shown in the past he’s willing to step in to save a fighter from himself. He wouldn’t allow UFC Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell to compete in the Octagon again after he suffered a third-straight KO loss at UFC 115 against Rich Franklin. “The Iceman” never did fight again and has a job for life with the organization.
Will White take the same approach with Nogueira, or will the decorated but faded heavyweight get one more chance inside the Octagon? Only time will tell, and it shapes up as a tricky situation for the UFC to deal with.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports