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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira signs UFC contract

At UFC 69, UFC President Dana White introduced former two-time PRIDE FC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (29-4-1) as the latest addition to the growing stable of talented fighters in the once-weak division.

It's huge news — an acquisition that will more than likely have huge implications on the UFC heavyweight division going forward.

While details of the contract have not been revealed, is reporting that "Big Nog�? or "Minotauro�? signed his deal just hours before showtime this past Saturday.

Here's the snip:

"Sources close to the dealings indicated that although Nogueira could be seen with UFC president Dana White at Thursday night's UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas, Nev., the deal had not yet been inked at that point. In actuality, Nogueira put pen to paper just a few short hours prior to last night's UFC event in Houston, Texas.

Although Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta now own the Pride Fighting Championships, Nogueira was not simply ‘assigned' to the UFC. In fact, he was not yet under a contract with any organization and White had expressed interest in luring Nogueira to the UFC in the past.�?

Indeed, White has been vocal in the past about getting the best fighters in the sport, but he often referenced Nogueira specifically.

Now, he finally got his man.

The 30-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt joins Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Fabricio Werdum and Heath Herring as the latest "big name�? signings. In fact, "Big Nog�? defeated all of them (Herring twice) during his nearly six-year tenure with PRIDE FC.

He's also defeated other notables such as Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman, Sergei Kharitonov, Semmy Schilt, Ricco Rodriguez, Bob Sapp (who outweighed him by over 100 pounds) and Jeremy Horn, among others.

And two of his four losses have come to none other than Fedor Emelianenko.

Not a bad resume at all.

Put simply, this guy has the experience, talent and ability to challenge for the UFC title now. However, he mentioned in his brief in-ring address that he will fight at least one "tune-up�? fight before getting into the thick of the division — kind of like Cro Cop.

At least, that's how I interpreted his remarks.

And with Randy Couture, Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Andrei Arlovski, Werdum and other top fighters already scheduled in the near future to compete, it doesn't seem like a marquee name is even available to fight anytime soon.

Unless, of course, Tim Sylvia is itchin' for a fight.

Hmmmmm ...

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