The sun doesn’t shine quite like it once did for the Nogueira brothers. And at age 36, it’s only going to get darker from here.

Both brothers—light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio “Minotouro” and heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro”—had a heap of potential when fighting in Japan and were seen invincible when it came to grappling and unbeatable when it came to taking a punch. The iron chins and devastating guard play they possessed gave them a bright future. But now the brothers are at the point where retirement lingers around like a foul smell.

Both men are at a crossroads in their career: continue on despite age, trying to fight and get every last ounce out of that bright future they had, or hang up the gloves for good.

For Rodrigo, that question is easily answered. Unlike his brother, Rodrigo fights in a very shallow heavyweight division. One or two wins can easily earn him contender status. The division is also not nearly as talented as Rogerio’s light heavyweight division. No disrespect to Cain Velasquez, but Jon Jones is a tough nut to crack.

Given that alone, Rodrigo is the only one of the two that should carry on. Despite his loss to Velasquez, he can continue to be a top-five fighter in the heavyweight division. His losses have only come to top opponents (Frank Mir, Fedor Emelianenko, Velasquez, Dan Henderson and Josh Barnett). Rodrigo still easily has one of the best grappling games in the heavyweight division, and despite the weakening of his chin, he can still contend with the grappling specialists at the top of the division. After all, the only person to submit him in his entire career is Mir, and Mir is the best submission artist at heavyweight right now.

Rogerio, meanwhile, is coming off a win over Rashad Evans which is significant, sure. But can he duplicate that performance twice a year to get into title contention? Could Rogerio beat Alexander Gustafsson or beat Phil Davis in a rematch? Unlikely. The light heavyweight division is not only stronger than heavyweight, but has got a lot of up-and-coming young talent that is just looking for that big-name win to help build their careers.

Rodrigo still has a title shot he can cling to, and it will always be within reach at heavyweight. Another win against an elite foe and he certainly can stake a claim to a contender’s spot. And he still has enough left in the tank to make that one- or two-fight run to the top, whereas his brother, just a division below, will be heavily tested by wrestlers and great strikers.

There is just too much in the way of a title run for Rogerio. It will take too long to reach the top, and just getting there will take too much of a toll on a body already riddled with injuries. Although Rodrigo also has his share of injuries, he has the shorter road and there is still plenty to gain at heavyweight, including a rematch with Velasquez. Will he achieve such a goal? Only time will tell, but time is growing shorter for both brothers with each passing day.

Photo: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.