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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - "Minotauro"

Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira was born June 2, 1976 in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil along with his twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who fights in PRIDE's middleweight decision. ueira began training in Judo at the young age of five. Unfortunately, when he was ten he was struck by a truck and was in a coma for four days. It was during this time that he lost part of his liver as well as a rib. The accident also accounts for the large scar on his lower back. It is this scar that makes it much easier to distinguish Rodrigo from his twin, Rogerio.

When Nogueira was fourteen he was invited to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under renowned Ricardo de la Riva Goded. Prior to that time he had become training boxing to some degree; however, the opportunity to train under Goded gave him the ability to further his talents. He was awarded the black belt in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 1999.

In his PRIDE career, Nogueira has been distinguished by his technical mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, no doubt due to his serious training as a youth, as well as his submission victories. He also has a strong reputation as a proficient striker. His rather notable victories include wins over such names as Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson, Heath Herring and a long line of former UFC heavyweight champions including Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, Bob Sapp and Mirko "Cro Crop" Filipovic. Nogueira trains each year with the Cuban National Boxing team.

Nogueira debuted in July 2001 at PRIDE 15 and went on to quickly submit both Gary Goodridge as well as former UFC and PRIDE Grand Prix champion Mark Coleman using an armbar and triangle choke. After defeating Heath Herring he was awarded the PRIDE heavyweight championship title.

At PRIDE Shockwave, Nogueira came up against the former American football star Bob Sapp. Although Sapp managed to spike Nogueira onto the canvas and dominate the fight, it was Nogueira who came out as the fan favorite, receiving a reputation has having an ability to keep on taking punishment and still come back to win.

In his next fight he was once again seriously outweighed, pitted against the Dutch karate fighter Semmy Schilt. Still, he managed to score another victory, using the triangle choke.

At PRIDE 25 he came up against Fedor Emelianenko and suffered a loss when Emelianenko dominated the fight. He bounced back; however, and went on to win a decision against the former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez, despite Rodriguez delivering several flying knees and even managing to take Nogueira down.

When Emelianenko was unable to fight in November 2003 due to injuries, Nogueira was selected by PRIDE to act as the interim champion. He was matched up against Mirko Filipovic and suffered in the first round due to Filipovic's superb striking. In the second round Nogueira secured a come back and even managed a takedown over Filipovic.

Months later, in April 2004, he came up against the professional wrestler and former judoka, Hirotaka Yokoi, who at the time was unbeaten. He went on to choke Yokoi with a anaconda style chokehold. In the semi finals of the same PRIDE Total Elimination he also defeated Sergei Kharitonov, moving on to be pitted against Emelianenko in the final round. This round would prove to be much different than the first time the two faced off; however, the match still ended in a no contest after Emelianenko suffered an accidental headbut and was unable to continue.

Since that monumental fight, he has faced off with and defeated Polish Olympic Judoka Pawel Nastula as well as professional fighter and wrestler Kiyoshi Tamura.
 

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