There’s no easy way to say it: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira got his ass kicked by Frank Mir.
The 32-year-old Brazilian did not look like the fighter that, save for one Russian, lorded over one of the best collections of heavyweight talent in history at Pride Fighting Championships, nor the man who came from behind to win the UFC interim heavyweight championship last year. He looked sluggish, out of step, and sadly, old.
But there was a reason for it, says UFC president Dana White.
White maintains the former champ was suffering from a serious case of staph infection going into the Dec. 27 bout.
“I think Nog had staph real bad like six days before that fight,” White told reporters on Thursday.
Though he didn’t have blood tests to prove his theory, his eyes gave him all the evidence he needed.
“He had these things all over his body,” continued White. “I can’t explain what they looked like.”
Since the fight, Nogueira has remained silent on the circumstances leading up to the fight. Last month, he underwent knee surgery to repair an injury that also hampered his preparation for Mir, according to trainers.
Last week, Nogueira accepted his first bout since the loss, a meeting with former heavyweight champ Randy Couture at UFC 101 in August. Sources say he will do most of his preparation for the fight in Los Angeles.