New York, NY, May 12, 2008 — The coaches for season eight of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter,” the most successful original series in network history, will feature two of the UFC’s all-time top heavyweights. Interim UFC heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, will star in the new season featuring light heavyweights (205 lbs) and lightweights (155 lbs) premiering Wednesday, September 17 at 10:00pm ET/PT. Nogueira and Mir will square off in the Octagon“„¢ for a to-be-announced UFC pay per view event. UFC President Dana White will once again serve as the show’s host.
The Brazilian native Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (31-4-1), known as “Minotauro” (a Greek mythological creature), is one of the sport’s most successful heavyweights. Nogueira’s incredible career almost never happened as he was involved in a life-threatening accident at age ten when he was run over by a truck in his native Brazil. Fortunately, he survived and avoided permanent damage, thus his mixed martial arts pursuits were not deterred.
He began his professional career in MMA in the United States in June of 1999 with the World Extreme Fighting organization. However, Noguiera truly made a name for himself in the sport when he joined the RINGS organization in Japan and posted an 8-1-1 record from 1999-2000, losing only to Dan Henderson.
Nogueira’s leap to MMA stardom came when he joined PRIDE in Japan and, from 2001-2003, proceeded to defeat the biggest names in the division including Bob Sapp, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, Enson Inoue, Sanae Kikuta, Semmy Schilt, and avenged his earlier loss to Henderson. A tough loss to Fedor Emelianenko in March 2003 stopped his impressive winning streak, but “Minotauro’s” career rebounded with a close decision win over former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez in August 2003.
The defining match in his career in PRIDE came in November 2003 with a memorable victory over Croatian Mirko Cro Cop via submission to gain the PRIDE heavyweight belt. ‘”Minotauro” would go 8-2 with one no contest in the final three years of his stay in Japan, including avenging a previous defeat to another former UFC heavyweight champ, Josh Barnett, with a decision win in December 2006.
Nogueira made his UFC debut in July 2007 at UFC 77 with a victory over a familiar nemesis, Herring, whom Nogueira had beaten three times previously in his career. This past February, “Minotauro’ defeated Tim Sylvia in a stirring comeback via submission in the third round to claim the interim UFC heavyweight belt. The 31 year-old Nogueira lives in Brazil but spends time in south Florida training with the renowned MMA organization, America’s Top Team.
Although he’s only 28, Frank Mir has endured quite a professional and personal rollercoaster ride since his UFC debut in November 2001 at UFC 34. Following a first round loss to Ian Freeman at UFC 38 in July 2002, Mir, a young, highly touted mixed martial arts star from Las Vegas was at a career turning point. Mir regained credibility as an emerging star with an impressive victory over UFC great Tank Abbott in February 2003. That victory led Mir on a journey to the ultimate prize in mixed martial arts, the heavyweight title. Mir defeated Tim Sylvia at UFC 48 in June 2004 in an unforgettable arm-breaking submission that UFC fans still discuss to this day.
In a span of a few months, Mir went from the heights of UFC heavyweight champion to the lows of nearly dying in a grisly motorcycle accident. The severe injuries he suffered in the horrific accident led to him being stripped of his title as he rehabbed his broken leg.
Mir returned to the Octagon almost two years later in February of 2006, but was stopped by Marcio Cruz in the first round. A subsequent decision win over Dan Christison put Mir in the win column once again, but a loss to rising star Brandon Vera put Mir back on the comeback trail. Now, after two straight victories including a first round submission of Brock Lesner, a former All-American wrestler at the University of Minnesota and WWE superstar, Mir is ready for another shot at the title.
The eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” goes into production in late May. The entire cast will be announced in early September.
Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Films and Television, Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White of Zuffa, LLC, and Kevin Kay of Spike TV are the show’s executive producers. Brian J. Diamond, senior vice president, sports & specials, Spike TV is co-executive producer and Christopher Martello is executive in charge of production for Spike TV.