San Diego welcomes their newest neighbors, the Nogueira Brothers

Charter members of the new Black House Team Nogueira Gym located just across the street from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar pose for a group photo with the co-owners, two legends of MMA, Antonio Rogelio Nogueira (r) and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (l).

The twins Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira recently opened a brand new Mixed Martial Arts facility across the street from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. With the same first name, same last name, similar nicknames and comparable triumphs in a sport that is growing dramatically, the brothers are truly a matched set. In other words, the twins, born on June 2, 1976 in the town of Vitoria da Conqista, Brazil, have a lot in common.


Having the same first name is not uncommon in Brazil. Their mom named them after their father, Antonio Amielto. With the similarity in names, the chore of differentiating the two fell on their peers. Rodrigo, who stands 6’3” tall, received his nickname Minotauro alluding to a monster in Greek mythology who had the head of a bull and body of a man. The monster, kept in a Labyrinth in Crete, was fed human flesh. Rogerio, who is a few pounds lighter and slightly shorter than his brother, was nicknamed Minotouro, which means little bull.

As children, Rodrigo was often the first to act and then little brother would follow. Case in point, after Rodrigo began to train in MMA, his brother followed suit six months later. After Rodrigo began to compete in the sport, his little brother followed a year and nine months later. Big brother’s mate gave birth to a daughter; soon after Rogerio’s wife gave birth to a daughter. Though he can be quite serious at times, Rodrigo is usually the first to initiate a prank while his little brother Rogerio is more responsible and considerate of others.

In answer to the question: “Why did you choose to open your gym across from the Marine Corps base?” Rogerio answered: “Where better to open a gym but across the street from America’s top fighting force. And what’s the best way to sharpen a soldier’s combat skills? Introduce them to all the fighting specialties, Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai/Kickboxing plus Judo to make them even more invincible.”

Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira started training in judo at the age of 4, boxed at 14 and learned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 18. He was run over by a truck at the age of 10, and fell into a coma for 4 days. During that period he lost a rib and part of his liver and had to be hospitalized for eleven months. As a result of the accident he has a large scar, including a noticeable indentation, on his lower back. In 1999, at the age of 23, he was awarded a black belt in both judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That year, he made his mixed martial arts debut fighting in Japan for the Rings promotion King of Kings 1999, a forty-eight man tournament held over three separate events where he won three fights before losing by decision to Dan Henderson in the semifinals. In between the Rings events, he defeated Jerry Horn by decision at WEF 8 and then entered the King of Kings 2000 40-man tournament held over three events, winning all of his five matches to become the tournament champion.

His most notable victories in Pride include wins over Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman, Ricco Rodriguez, Josh Barnett and former UFC heavyweight champions Heath Herring, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Bob Sapp. Following the end of Akira Maeda’s Rings Federation, he was crowned the inaugural Pride World Heavyweight Champion after defeating Heath Herring by decision. He then fought for Antonio Inoki’s UFO organization, scoring his first MMA knockout against Sanae Kikuta. Next, he represented Pride at a co-promotion with K-1, against super heavyweight Bob Sapp. Sapp manhandled the much smaller Rodrigo, spiking him onto the ring canvas and dominating the fight until he tired tired and fell to an armbar submission. His battle with Sapp, who outweighed him by over 150 pounds, made him a fan favorite for his seemingly inhuman ability to withstand punishment before recovering to win. Dutch kickboxer Semmy Schilt was his next victim. Again heavily outsized, he scored a victory by triangle choke and then avenged his sole career loss by submitting Dan Henderson via armbar. The many battles over the years have made him a legend.

Rodrigo was to face Frank Mir on September 25, 2010 at UFC 119 in a rematch from their Championship bout in which Mir won via TKO at UFC 92, but Rodrigo had to pull out the match due to a knee surgery. The ACL surgery kept him out of competition for the rest of 2010. Over the holidays he returned to crutches after having a hip operation. After his hip heeled, he returned to the hospital for a second hip operation.

Now 34, Rodrigo is recognized as one of the most decorated heavyweights in Mixed Martial Arts history. Since he’s the only heavyweight to have won four belts (UFC, WEF, Pride and Rings) we asked: “What is your motivation to continue fighting?” His answer: “I love challenges and love fighting. I lost the UFC belt being far from my best, and now I want to return in my best shape ever and get the title back.”

(l to r) Little Nog, Big Nog, Antonio Rogerio and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the not so little, twin brother, is a 10-time PRIDE veteran who owns career wins over Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Kazushi Sakuraba, Guy Mezger, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kazuhiro Nakamura and Edwin Dewees, among others. He also went 2-0 during his brief tenure with Affliction, which included a win over Valdimir Matyushenko.

Rogerio was a sensational amateur boxer, the 2006 and 2007 Brazilian Super Heavyweight Champion. He won a bronze medal in the 2007 Pan American Games. Before becoming a star in PRIDE, he competed in DEEP and Hook n’Shoot events, then joined his brother on the Brazilian Top Team. He made his Pride Fighting Championships debut on April 28th, 2002 at Pride 20 against Japanese pro wrestler/MMA fighter Yusuke Imamura, ending the fight in the first round with a guillotine choke in just 35 seconds.

After losing his next fight to Vladimir Matyushenko by decision, he bounced back with a victory over Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. He fought again at Pride 24 against Guy Mezger and got the decision. He next fought Kazuhiro Nakamura, who was making his pro MMA debut. Nakamura fought valiantly and even escaped multiple submissions but in the end the experience and skill of Rogerio proved to be too much. He finished off Nakamura with an armbar in the second round. In his next fight with PRIDE, Rogerio made a huge step up in competition when he was pitted against legendary fighter and crowd favorite Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event of Pride Shockwave 2003. The fight was an excellent back-and-forth battle which saw Rogerio utilize his excellent ground game and get the better of Sakuraba standing up and in the clinches. Late in the third, he bloodied Sakuraba’s face with kicks and went on to take an unanimous decision. By beating such a huge star, he was seen as a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division.

Rogerio then beat Alex Stiebling in Korea, before returning to Japan for a rematch with Nakamura in the main event of Pride Bushido 4. He won a split decision victory. Next, he won a unanimous decision victory at Pride 29 against Alistair Overeem in what was for the most part an even fight. Overeem escaped many of Nogueira’s submission attempts but tired late in the fight. He then entered PRIDE’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix next and his first opponent was Dan Henderson. The same Henderson who fought his brother, and lost by armbar. Henderson had the same luck with Rogerio and submitted late in the first round by armbar. In the quarterfinals Nogueira was matched up against top Chute Boxe prospect Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a Brazilian Top Team versus Chute Boxe clash. The first round is widely considered one of the best opening rounds in MMA history with Rogerio dropping the rarely knocked down Shogun and rocking him late in the round while Shogun mounted some nice offense of his own, connecting with some diving punches and taking Rogerio down. The second and third rounds belonged to Rua, who continued to land his diving punches. Rua went on to take the decision and eventually win the tournament. The fight, his first loss in three years, ended Rogerio’s eight fight winning streak.

(photo, right) Some people need no introduction. Here we have (l to r) three MMA legends from Brazil: heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, middleweight Anderson Silva, and heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

After that Rua fight, Rogerio took time off to heal some old injuries and would not fight again until July of 2006, when he again fought Overeem and won by TKO in the second round. He then met his Waterloo at Pride 33 when he went up against a relatively unknown by the name of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. A high kick/left hook combo by the challenger knocked Nogueira out in what is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. PRIDE closed its doors soon after and Rogerio went on to defeat Todd Gouwenberg at an HCF show before signing a contract to compete for Affliction Entertainment. After winning two bouts, he was given a chance to avenge his earlier loss to Vladimir Matyushenko. He did just that, knocking Matyushenko out in the second round. After that fight he took care of Dion Staring in Brazil.

After Affliction closed their doors in July of 2009, he signed with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and made his debut at UFC 106 against Luiz Cane. He made quick work of Cane dropping him with a sweeping left hook before finishing him off with punches. He was then scheduled to face local fighter Brandon Vera of the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, Calif. at UFC 109. However, Nogueira was forced off the card after fracturing an ankle in practice. His next fight was to be against former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champ Forrest Griffin at UFC 114, but Griffin had to pull out due to a shoulder injury. Instead he fought Jason Brilz and won a controversial split decision. Next, he faced undefeated, TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader on September 25, 2010 at UFC 119 and lost by way of a unanimous decision.

So, there you have it, an introduction to your newest neighbors. Outside the ring, they’re two of the most fun-loving guys you’ll ever meet. Inside that octagon, beware, because they are all business, doing their utmost to beat the crap out of any competitor. Of course now they’ll be helping others train to be future champions.

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