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History in the Making: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira becomes the only man to hold Pride and UFC titles

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Fedor Emelianenko never showed up. Wanderlei Silva can't seem to stop getting knocked out. Takanori Gomi hasn't looked very good at all.

It seems like the champions from Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC) can't seem to get any love inside the Octagon. 

All of them except for one: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Pride FC's first heavyweight champion was the only person to hold a title in the Japanese promotion and then go on to capture gold in the UFC. And he did it in typical "Big Nog"-style by taking a pounding that seemingly no normal man could withstand and coming back to win via submission.

The Brazilian is set to fight in his home country for the very first time in his career at UFC 134: "Silva vs. Okami" when he takes on young The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)- veteran Brendan Schaub who is enjoying a four-fight win streak.

Before next Saturday's (August 27) bout, let's take a look at when Nogueira made history by defeating Tim Sylvia.

Read on!

Coming off a tenure at Pride that only Russian perfection could best, "Minotauro's" signing was a major coup for the UFC. Soon after the official announcement was made at UFC 69, he was booked against his former foe from Japan, Heath Herring.

"The Texas Crazy Horse" had lost twice -- once by decision and once by submission -- to the Brazilian inside the Pride ring and it was a foregone conclusion that a third defeat was in the cards for Herring.

A head kick in the first five minutes accomplished something we rarely ever saw: Nogueira was dropped to the canvas. He even seemed to be out but the American -- for whatever reason -- didn't go in for the kill.

"Big Nog" survived the scare and went on to win another decision. The victory also earned him a shot at the interim heavyweight title after Randy Couture retired/quit from the UFC.

His opponent was the man "The Natural" beat for the title, Tim Sylvia who had gotten back in the win column by defeating Brandon Vera.

The interim title bout was largely a legal ploy, designed to cement the UFC's stance that Couture had -- by vacating his title -- retired and thus was not free to fight for another promotion. But for fight fans, it didn't matter. After the UFC's buyout of Pride, we were finally getting a taste of all the superfights we weren't promised but expected anyway.

Let's take a closer look.

Both fighters open up the fight by trying to find their range. "The Maine-iac" cracks his opponent across the jaw but gets wrapped up and taken down as "Minotauro" pulls guard. Nothing comes of it and the two are back to their feet quickly.

The two exchange punches and while Nogueira is landing as well as in as much frequency as his American counterpart, entering into a striking battle with someone like Tim Sylvia is an exercise that could end up very badly. You could ask Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez, and Tra Telligman for confirmation of that.

A hook/cross combination from the former UFC champ lands perfectly and "Big Nog" stumbles to the mat. Sylvia follows him down and a cut opens up over his opponent's left eye. The Brazilian -- as per usual -- somehow wades his way out of troubled waters and gets back to his feet.

For the remainder of the round, it seems that Nogueira is still feeling the effects from the knockdown as Sylvia peppers him with that long jab that stymied so many of his opponents in the past.

A glimmer of hope at the very end of the round shines through the cracks as Nogueira lands a takedown and immediately passes. It could be a taste of things to come or it could be too little, too late.

Sylvia slows things down considerably in the next five minutes. He stuffs takedowns from the Brazilian while continuing that lengthy jab almost at will. "Big Nog" shoves his opponent against the cage, hoping to get him to the mat with a little less than two minutes left. It livens up the crowd but again, Sylvia refuses to go down.

And just like in the previous round, Nogueira shows some life right before the horn sounds. Two solid combinations find their mark against Sylvia's jaw and you can almost sense that "Big Nog" has got this opponent figured out.

The third round open with a leg kick from Nogueira who immediately gets his head snapped back by Sylvia. "The Maine-iac" begins to open up with his jab once again but the Brazilian pulls guard.

Wrapping one of the American's legs with his own legs, "Big Nog" grabs Sylvia's other and scoops him up and over in a textbook Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) sweep. Now on top, he quickly slides into sidemount and it's almost like seeing the grappling equivalent of watching Beethoven conduct an orchestra.

Sylvia bucks up, rolls over, and gets to his hands and knees in an attempt to get back to his feet but this was exactly what Nogueira wanted him to do. With his neck just begging to have an arm wrapped around it, "Minotauro" is more than happy to oblige.

"Big Nog" had done it again. He had ripped victory from the clutches of defeat and made himself a champion across two of the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions in the world.

Frank Mir and a nasty staph infection did their part to take the title from him nearly a year later but his name was already in the history books. And unless Dan Henderson manages to do something he couldn't do twice before and unifies two promotion's titles, it's almost assured that Nogueira's will be the only name in that category.

But can the Brazilian beat Schaub and work his way to yet another title reign?

The road there begins next Saturday.

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