“Big Nog” spent fifteen years of his life as a professional MMA fighter, but now reveals that an eye injury effected that whole run.
“I had six surgeries when I was a kid, two when I was teenager, and two recent ones,” Nogueira told MMA Fighting. “I implanted an intraocular contact lens, and if you poke me in the eye really hard it moves. Imagine how many punches I took… I had to put it back in place all the time.”
Nogueira battled through that eye injury to beat some of the best the sport has to offer, including Jeremy Horn, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, Bob Sapp, Dan Henderson, Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Tim Sylvia, Randy Couture and Brendan Schaub.
The legendary fighter admits the pain from the eye injury is what eventually caused him to retire.
“It was two fights: the fight itself, and the fight to be able to see,” Nogueira said. “That’s one of the reasons why I stopped fighting. My last fight, with (Stefan) Struve, he poked me in the eye several times. If you watch the fight, I’m trying to secure a single leg and he putting his fingers in my face, and that disturbed me a lot. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped fighting because it hurt a lot.”
Despite retiring, one thing Nogueira has done is to remain active in the MMA community as an ambassador for the sport in Brazil and he is also an executive for the UFC.