Following Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s first-round knockout loss to Roy Nelson on April 11 in Abu Dhabi, many people have called for the former Pride and UFC champion to retire. UFC president Dana White now joins the list.
Nogueira (34-9-1, 1 NC) cemented his legacy in the Japanese PRIDE organization. In a span of two years, from 2000 to 2002, Nogueira fought thirteen times. He won all of them and captured the Pride heavyweight title. He lost the belt in March 2003 to Fedor Emelianenko. The two would go on to fight two more times, but the Brazilian was unable to recapture the crown.
He made his UFC debut in July 2007 at UFC 73 against Heath Herring. He won by unanimous decision and was given the opportunity to fight for the interim heavyweight championship against former champion Tim Sylvia in his next outing. He came from behind the win via submission in the third round. That was probably the last time Nogueira was legitimately still a top heavyweight.
He lost the interim title at UFC 92 in December 2008 to former champion Frank Mir by technical knockout and hasn’t put together back-to-back wins since. He’s gone 3-5 in his last eight fights. His three wins were over Randy Couture, Brendan Schaub, and Dave Herman. He was knocked out by Cain Velasquez and lost twice to Mir, including being submitted for the first time in his career resulting in a broken arm. He was then submitted by Fabricio Werdum in June 2013 and knocked out by Nelson.
Nogueira recently stated that he’d like to continue fighting, but White doesn’t think that’s a good idea.
“Out of respect for Nogueira, I didn't want to say anything until he said something publicly. Then he came out and said he wants to fight Frank Mir. I don't want to see Nogueira fight ever again. He should retire,” said the UFC president following The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale in Quebec City, Canada on Wednesday.
“He is a war horse, just the battles in Pride that he's been in, let alone the fights that he's fought in the UFC. He is one of the most respected fighters in the world by other fighters, let alone by fans. And I like him very much, too. So I wanted to give him the opportunity to say something first and now I'm gonna say, ‘Big Nog, I love ya, but I'd love ya to never fight again,'” added White.
Questioned what he’d do if Nogueira didn’t want to hang up the gloves, White responded, “I've been in this position a million times, so we'll figure it out.”