In his great "A Fighter's Heart" Sam Sheridan conveys what it is like to be backstage with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at a fight. It was in Yokohama, Japan, at Pride 25. Big Nog had just lost a battle for the Pride Heavyweight Championship.
It was on 16 March 2003.
"Rodrigo, with his face starting to swell, hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek, and I was filled with love for the guy. He just has a lot of love in his heart. It's what has made him.
"Love has given him belief in itself. It's what makes a dog fight past forty-five minutes. Love is what makes us great, and this display of strength, heart, and love is what brings us all to the fights."
Fans love Big Nog. But sometimes in fighting, there comes a time when you love a fighter so much, you don't want to see him fight again.
Roy Nelson, 37, fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, 37, at UFN 39 in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Although their ages are identical, physiologically, Big Nog is a much older man.
Cago Potato caught the moment last night. They said Big Nog looked like he was covered in cement.
Blood is one thing.
"What is blood but a little bit of pride pouring out?" asked Renzo Gracie, answering "Blood is the sauce of the fight."
But this was something else.
This is the end:
MMAJunkie's Ben Fowlkes has the story.
I wonder, what was he thinking just then, once consciousness and some semblance of human-level awareness came flooding back in? Did he wonder why he’d ever agreed to this? Did he reflect on how this sort of thing – the waking up flat on his back with no idea how he’d gotten there sort of thing – never used to happen to him? Did he remind himself that, after nearly 15 years in the sport, he has nothing left to prove to anyone, and no chin left to prove it with?
Or did he just immediately begin calculating the taxes on his show money, wondering whether it would be enough once the forces of financial erosion had finished chipping away at it?
I don’t know, but I hope he found some way to make his peace with the facts as they are rather than as he’d like them to be. Nogueira’s already had more revivals and resurrections than most aging heavyweights ever get, so it must be hard to believe that there are really no more rabbits left for him to pull out of his hat.
And, who knows, maybe he could hang around just a little while longer. Maybe he could even win another fight or two that he has no business even accepting, like it’s 2011 all over again and he’s practically limping into the cage against Brendan Schaub before being carried out as a national hero.
Or maybe – probably – he’d only end up with more fights like this one, fights that seem like decent ideas right up until they start.
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Mixed martial arts is dangerous when you are 21, and only gets more dangerous with the years. It is no game for old men.
Cesar Gracie @CesarGracieBJJ
Minotauro is a legend that has done it all but needs to retire from @UFC CTE is no joke.
Rodrigo Nogueira @Minotauromma
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