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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Sapp, Sylvia, and Gracie all helped shape epic MMA career

Former PRIDE FC and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight titleholder, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, recently decided to retire and tie a ribbon around his legendary mixed martial arts (MMA) career after more than 15 years in the hurt business.

Throughout that time, "Big Nog" provided MMA fans with plenty of memorable fights (and highlights) inside the PRIDE ring, as well as the UFC cage. So, which moments sit atop of the Brazilian's list of all-time favorites?

Nogueira breaks it down for MMA Fighting:

"I have three moments in my career: When I fought in Japan and I got my world title in PRIDE, you know. Then when I fight Bob Sapp there were more than 100,000 people. I think it was the biggest crowd in the Gynasio. It's four moments, that I'll tell you. I fight for the world title against Tim Sylvia. I became a fighter watching UFC, watching Royce Gracie that changed my life. Fighting for UFC was a big thing for me and winning the title. Then the UFC came to Brazil in 2011 and we see the sport become very popular. We went to open TV, people start to know me in the street, Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, everywhere. It was a big moment for me. All the people going crazy, screaming that day. All the media helping us, it was a great moment in my career."

"Big Nog" was last seen inside the cage coming up short against Stefan Struve at UFC 190, which took place just last month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (recap).

Nogueira will now serve as "Athlete Relations Ambassador" for UFC Brazil, joining the likes of Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell, who also joined the corporate ranks once their combat sports careers came to a close.

Sorry, "Kos."

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