With last night’s loss, it has now been over five years since Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira had back-to-back wins in the Octagon. Since entering the UFC with victories over Heath Herring and Tim Sylvia, the latter of which was for the Interim Heavyweight Belt, Nog has lost 4 and won 3. Each step forward has quickly been followed by a step back; never posting back-to-back losses, but never again truly entering the title picture. Since winning the interim belt in 2008 in a Fight of the Night at UFC 81, Nogueira has lost to Frank Mir twice, Cain Velasquez once and now had his 2006 win over Werdum avenged via armbar at UFC on Fuel TV 10.
Age and Damage , a fighter’s two worst enemies, are definitely catching up to Minotauro. 3 for 3 in his last six, his wins and losses have been impressive and lauded: He claimed a Fight of the Night and Fight of the Year victory over 45-year-old Randy Couture, a Knockout of the Night victory over Brendan Schaub and a Submission of the Night victory over Dave “Pee Wee” Herman during that stretch. He also suffered a career threatening injury at the hands of a Submission of the Night performance by Frank Mir who broke Nog’s humerus bone with a Kimura at UFC 140. Nog was also on the wrong end of a Knockout of the Night performance by Cain Velasquez in a title eliminator at UFC 110.
There can be no doubt that each time Nogueira steps in the octagon he comes to fight. Nogueira is a name, a legend. He is a marketable name that classes up any card it is put on. He is a bonus machine. He definitely does not want to retire, not while his peers are still fighting; but if a fighter knew when to quit, he would not be a fighter. Chuck Liddell struggled with the same instincts to keep fighting past the point his body could perform. While I would like to see Nogueira leave on a win, the only thing that can truly be counted on are Anderson Silva’s tears when he corners for his very good friend, win or lose.