Just a short time after celebrating his twin brother Rogerio's victory over Patrick Cummins in the Octagon at UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil, UFC officials announced that Rodrigo would be inducted on July 10 at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas.
“I’m really excited to announce Minotauro Nogueira as the first inductee of the 2016 UFC Hall of Fame class,” UFC President Dana White said. “Big Nog is a mixed martial arts legend and, as an icon of the sport, we couldn’t think of a more fitting platform to make this announcement then at the record-breaking stadium event in Brazil. Nogueira is a true pioneer and we look forward to celebrating his career with all the fight fans in July at the UFC Fan Expo.”
After he declared his retirement, Nogueira was named UFC Brazil Athlete Relations Ambassador for his continued work throughout the country in September of 2015. He will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a Pioneer. The Pioneers era category includes athletes who turned pro before November 17, 2000 (when unified rules were adopted), is a minimum age of 35 or has been retired for one year or more.
Nogueira, whose career spanned 15 years, boasted one of the most successful careers in MMA history. With his first professional fight in 1999, he rose to prominence in Japan with PRIDE Fighting Championship, becoming a two-time champion and capturing the organization’s first-ever heavyweight title in 2001.
Upon PRIDE being purchased by an affiliate of Zuffa, LLC in 2007, Nogueira continued his dominance by defeating Tim Sylvia at UFC 81 for the interim UFC heavyweight championship. Nogueira finished his career with an impressive 34-10-1 record, along with a reputation as one of the greatest Brazilian jiu-jitsu artists ever in the heavyweight division, as evidenced by his 22 submission victories.
A pillar in the Rio de Janeiro community, Nogueira operates an Institute along with Rogerio. Created in 2008, the “Nogueira Brothers Institute” has six locations that train underprivileged children in Brazil, using MMA as a social inclusion tool. Since its inception, the project has contributed to social development by changing the lives of many young people from communities throughout Rio de Janeiro, building exemplary citizenship and overcoming barriers.
Nogueira joins Royce Gracie (inducted 2003), Ken Shamrock (inducted 2003), Dan Severn (inducted 2005), Randy Couture (inducted 2006), Mark Coleman (inducted 2008), Chuck Liddell (inducted 2009), Matt Hughes (inducted 2010), Tito Ortiz (inducted 2012), Pat Miletich (inducted 2014), and Bas Rutten (inducted 2015) in the Pioneers wing of the UFC Hall of Fame.