Sun, 07 January 2024
Bahrain has become a global MMA hub in recent years with its hugely successful Brave Combat Federation. Recently, former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current global ambassador Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira visited the Kingdom to attend the marquee Brave CF 80 event, and Kristian Harrison caught up with him to find out more about his stay.
Mr Nogueira, better known as Minotauro, is one of the most popular faces in the world of MMA, with legions of fans around the world. The native Brazilian, alongside his twin brother Rogerio, impressed during a storied career with a magnetic personality and a priority on showing respect.
Now in his new career as an ambassador, Minotauro gets to travel the world doing what he loves; seeing all kinds of promotions and finding the next generation of UFC fighters. In the last three months of the year, he witnessed more than a thousand fights.
Before he even got to Brave, Minotauro was glowing about his opinion of Bahrain. “First of all, I’d like to say I’m in love with this country,” he exclaimed. “It’s beautiful, the people are so receptive and it’s a modern place which loves its combat sports. I definitely came at the right time to see all the National Day lights and festivities!
“When it came to Brave itself, I found it an incredible promotion. Ultimately, I’m here because we need new talents and to find the next generation of our sport. Obviously I have a focus on Brazil, but I find gems in other parts of the world too. To see what His Highness Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa has achieved since 2016 really shows what can be accomplished with investment and bringing the best coaches and trainers. It really impressed me.
“I truly believe that if they keep going, they can host a full UFC event in Bahrain just like they do in the UAE.”
There are few men in the world with as much knowledge of MMA as Minotauro, and he was keen to sing the praises of Brave as a high-level production event with a very high level of skill. In return, many of the fighters sought him out for priceless advice on how to take the next step in their career.
“For me, I would always tell a young fighter to maintain the highest level of respect they can. Some fighters, they like pressure talk. Some like to promote themselves, but then they just lose control and it gets nasty. The principle of martial arts is respect. I trained in martial arts since I was four years old and the first thing I learned was to bow to the mat and my opponent. When you bow to someone, you thanks him for using his body to get better and obtain more knowledge. I love it when fighters go hard at once another, but once the fight is done, they give a hug.”
Away from the ring, Mr Nogueira and his twin brother have created a social project, called Beyond Borders, aimed at ‘transforming lives and turning dreams into opportunities.’ The ultimate goal is to help children in Brazil learn physical education by developing technical and socio-emotional skills. If successful, the brothers hope to spread it around the world.
As for Minotauro, he hopes to return to the Kingdom in February. “We have plans to potentially open a gym here next year and I will bring coaches from the Brazilian MMA teams to learn what they do here.”