At age 11, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was run over by a truck weighing over 12,000 pounds. At 36, he met the driver.
Who sees Big Nog facing the giants of the UFC and knows that the biggest battle of his life came when he was just 11 years old? Frank Mir who broke his arm in a submission at UFC 153, and 300 pound plus Bob Sapp who slammed him in PRIDE in 2002 are even close. The biggest fight happened 25 years ago, when a 12.000 pound truck was the boy's opponent. The belt was his own life, and as always ever after, he showed a will to win.
"It was God who helped us," said Big Nog. "It would be a pity if I stopped everything to eleven years old. Just have to thank my dad and my brother, who gave me a lot of strength. This message of strength was very important to me. I carried it inside me and I managed to overcome many other things."
The day had started with a party. The Nogueira family were all gathered at the house of a friend to celebrate the birthday of a relative. Rodrigo and his twin brother Rogerio were playing with boys their own age. A truck stopped in front of the house, and everyone climbed back to have fun.
"We were having fun," said Big Nog. "Out of curiosity, we jumped in the open truck, and the driver started the truck. When he called, all children jumped out the side of the bucket. I jumped through the bottom. It was much worse than any fight."
When jumping, Rodrigo fell back on the asphalt and froze when he saw the truck going in his direction. Brother Rogerio tried to warn him, but without success. The next few seconds were unforgettable for both.
"I began to see that wheel passing over it slowly," recalls Little Nog. "Above the foot of the leg. When I looked, it seemed that the truck was going over a spring. The adrenaline was such that he felt no pain, but fell to the ground as soon as the rose."
His Uncle, a doctor, was at the party, and provide the first care on site. Arriving at the hospital, the medical team was already in place to try to save the life the eleven year old.
"It was God who saved him," said his father Hamilton. "No doctor believed his survival."
The surgery was a success. With a revolutionary technique - the muscle of the back was attached to the diaphragm so he continued to breathe without problems - the doctors were able to save the boy's life. There were eleven months of recovery and healing. It was the first victoy of Big Nog's life.
"I was always very curious to meet him," said Big Nog.
Twenty five years later Big Nog came face to face with the driver, Jubervaldo. They had never met. The fighters traveled to Paramirim for the reunion, 200 miles from Vitória da Conquista. Reporter Régis Rösin set up the meeting.
"You did not come here to punch me, right?" Joked Jubervaldo.
There were no punches or kicks. The reunion was not as a rematch, it was a pardon. A pardon given because of an accident that helped "build" Big Nog's will to win, whether in the Octagon or in life.
"It was not my fault," said Jubervaldo. "it was an accident that unfortunately happened. For you was a victory. The first one."
Minotauro-reencontra-motorista-que-quase-o-matou.html" target="_blank">Read entire article... (original Portuguese)
Related MMA gear from the UG Store