Doctors were not convinced a 10-year-old Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would survive after being struck by a truck. “Big Nog” famously has a large scar running down his lower back, a reminder of an accident that left him in a coma for four days. One may assume those four days are a completely absent, but it turns out Nogueira actually remembers distinct moments.
Wald Bloise, a third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under his cousin Nogueira, relayed a story told to him by his cousin to A Fighter’s Legacy podcast. Nogueira is said to remember doctors telling his mother he would not survive his injuries.
“When he was in the hospital he was in a coma, he heard the doctor say, ‘he’s dead,’” Bloise recalled. “He told me, ‘no, I’m not dead. I will leave. I’m going to leave.’”
The accident occurred during a party at Nogueira’s uncle’s home. A pint-sized “Big Nog” and his friend were chatting behind a parked truck. Nogueira did not notice the truck start. It backed up, crushing the child’s leg, hips, belly and shoulder.
“I saw a lot of blood,” his twin brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira told the podcast. “It was a terrible experience for me. The hardest experience of my life to see him that way.”
According to Rogerio, his brother spent “maybe 11 months in the hospital. He couldn’t walk for six months. It was terrible.”
Nogueira’s legendary grit was forged in fires far hotter than mixed martial arts (MMA). Left severely compromised by the accident, Nogueira had to re-learn the most basic motions. “Big Nog” subsequently carved out a legendary career highlighted by his achievements as the inaugural PRIDE heavyweight champion, interim UFC heavyweight champion, and UFC Hall of Fame status.