8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is the second greatest heavyweight in the history of MMA behind only Fedor Emelianenko. In the universe according to the UFC, where Emelianenko remains persona non grata, Nogueira is the best of all time. Though, even with Emelianenko under consideration, Nogueira is a very close second.
Nogueira was the first ever Pride heavyweight champion and the only fighter to win titles in both Pride and the UFC. Though he was never as big of a star as either Mirko Filipovic or Wanderlei Silva, Nogueira’s uncanny ability to absorb punishment while he waited for his opponent to make a mistake has become legendary. That, along with the sheer volume of fights in which Nogueira has competed may also explain why, at 34-years-old, he may no longer be a championship caliber fighter.
Still, Nogueira has compiled some noteworthy statistics in his career. Nogueira is also the only fighter of the trio with Filipovic and Silva to currently have a winning record in the UFC (3-2-0), having beaten Herring, Tim Sylvia, and Randy Couture. Though not overwhelming on its own merits, Nogueira’s UFC record is identical to that of current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Nogueira also has the highest winning percentage in Pride, 85%, as compared to 75% for Filipovic and 78% for Silva. The record is more remarkable when considering the opponents Nogueira beat: Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, Bob Sapp, Semmy Schilt, Ricco Rodriguez, Filipovic, Sergei Kharitonov, Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett.