MMA legend and all round nice guy Nogueira made his return to the octagon this weekend after a 16 month layoff due to hip and knee surgery. After losing 2 of his last 3 fights many thought his age, injuries and career of epic wars inside the cage/ring were catching up with him. Against the young, athletic Brendan Schaub, who was riding a 4-fight winning streak, Nogueira was a +195 betting underdog. The pressure was on him to perform in front of his home crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and a loss surely would have sparked talks of retirement.
In true Nogueira fashion he started the fight by absorbing punishment. He’s pulled off a number of shocking comeback victories in his career but his ability to repeat take shots has come into question as of late. The quick and powerful Schaub looked dangerous, surely Nogueira would have to look for the takedown. Well apparently not as Nogueira backed Schaub up against the cage and landed an overhand right and a left hook that dropped Schaub to the mat. (KO Gif here) The frenzied Rio crowd launched into an uproar as the hometown underdog shocked the room with the thrilling stoppage.
Nogueira has a long list of career highlights: submitting Mirko Cro Cop for the Pride heavyweight belt, submitting Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight belt, guest appearing as a Bolivian solider in The Expendables. Now he can add upsetting Brendan Schaub in his first ever fight in Brazil to that list.
Who knows what’s next for the legend, perhaps a rematch with Frank Mir could be on the cards. All that is for sure is as long as Big Nog keeps smiling, we’re smiling too.
– Jonathan Cooke from VT1 Gym