Damn you, Pride (FC)!
After delivering a flush right hand to the back of Frank Mir's ear at UFC 140 this past weekend (Dec. 10, 2011) that had the former champion dancing a delirious ditty, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira inexplicably looked to secure a submission instead of continuing his onslaught of punches.
Not this time.
That's because Nogueira gave Mir, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, too much space and time to recover. As a result, he was able to recuperate and eventually trap Nogueira, also a jiu-jitsu expert, in a kimura that crushed the former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion's upper arm like a bag of potato chips. Perhaps a little pride played a role in "Big Nog's" attempt to earn the victory via submission, seeing as how he has often been referred to as the best heavyweight submission fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA).
And a decisive submission victory over another established and decorated jiu-jitsu player such as Mir would have definitely bolstered his resume. However, not only did Nogueira fail to get the victory, but he ended up getting submitted himself for the first time in his illustrious career; coincidentally, by the same man who was the first to ever finish him in a fight via strikes three years prior at UFC 92.
"It was stupid. The fight was won, but I made up my mind to go for a submission. Two more shots and I knocked out Mir for sure. But I wanted to finish the fight beautifully. I wanted to finish with a submission. For a long time I had not finished a fight with a submission, so for a moment I wanted to submit him (laughs). But it was stupid, I was should have gotten the knock out. The fight was mine and I missed the opportunity. I felt very well. I was fast with good movement and very confident. I tried to submit when I was in a position where he could counter attack and he ended up taking my arm. I made a mistake, it was stupid ..."
The good news as that Nogueira, surprisingly, will not require surgery to repair his broken arm and could possibly return to competition in as few as nine months. Unbelievable, really, looking at these x-rays.
Nonetheless, in a storied career that spans 13 years and 42 fights, Nogueira has truly earned the right to be called a legend. He is the only man to ever hold the Pride FC and UFC heavyweight title and his win column includes victories over several of the best MMA fighters to ever compete in the sport, including Randy Couture, Mirko Filipovic and Josh Barnett, among others.
Whether or not Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass allow him to tack more pelts to his Hall of Fame-worthy wall and return to action so soon after suffering such a significant and high-profile injury is another story.
He seems eager to get back to the cage, but at this point, does Nogueira, 35, have anything left to prove?