All-time great heavyweight, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, has announced his retirement from the sport of MMA at the age of 39.
The former Pride heavyweight, and UFC interim-heavyweight champion, delivered the news at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro today.
His decision comes off the back of three straight losses, the latest of which came against Stefan Struve at UFC 190.
The veteran fighter leaves behind a record of 34-10-1 compiled over a staggering 17 year period. He fought a who’s who of the sport, including the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.
The Brazilian was known for his near super-human heart and toughness, which allowed him to score a number of astounding come from behind victories. He will also be remembered for his elite submission skills, as 21 of his 34 wins came via tap-out.
All of those attributes were in evidence the night he beat Tim Sylvia for the UFC interim-heavyweight title in 2008, as he managed to survive a brutal beating early on to submit the gigantic American via guillotine choke in the third stanza.
UFC president Dana White had plenty of positive things to say about Nogueira in the wake of the announcement. “Big Nog’ is a legend in the sport of MMA”, said White, according to mmafighting.com.“It has been an honor to watch him compete”.
Nogueira will not, however, sever ties with the organization with which he has been associated since 2007. “He will be a huge asset to the UFC, the athletes and the sport as an ambassador”, said White.
“Big Nog” was also enthusiastic about his new role with the company. “I want to help further the spread of MMA around the world and give my contribution to the emergence and development of young talent”.
He was a credit to the sport as a fighter, and it appears he will continue to be one in retirement.