In April of 1998, a Brazilian named Alexandre ‘Pequeno’ Nogueira made his debut in Japan for an organization called SHOOTO. SHOOTO was the place to be for fighters in the small weight classes, and ‘Pequeno’ did battle at 145 lbs. At the time, SHOOTO had the most technical fighters in the world, and ‘Pequeno’ would dominate his division like no one had seen before. If your tal,king about pound for pound the best fighter of that era, the discussion would center around Frank Shamrock, Rumina Sato and Alexandre Nogueira. Simply put, ‘Pequeno’ was awesome.
It would not take long for Nogueira to flash what would become his signature move. His debut came against Noboru Asahi, a fighter who was among the elite at the time and retired with a fine record of 19-6. At the time, Asahi had only lost to SHOOTO legend Kazuhiro Sakamoto back in 1991 and to Brazilian legend Royler Gracie.
Asahi had taken Sakamoto to a fifteen minute decision, and gone more than five minutes against Gracie, but he had roughly a minute with ‘Pequeno’ before he was tapping out to a guillotine choke.
Here are some highlights – especially the lethal and quick guillotine known as the ‘Five Finger’ guillotine.
Nogueira would start to seal his legend among SHOOTO’s sometimes snobbish following in his third fight, when he finished Asahi with a guillotine choke again.
Despite people being aware that he had a lethal finishing hold, people could not avoid the guillotine of Nogueira, it was one of the first signature moves in MMA history.
Noguiera went on to capture the SHOOTO 143 lb title, a championship which he held for 6 years and 8 months, until giving it up due to a knee injury. He finished many times with his guillotine, but also showed a very complete game – excellent take down defense, and a brutal ground and pound from the top. His stand up was raw and rugged, but he was instinctual, as he strung together 3 and four punch combinations with regularity.
Like all greats, Noguiera likely has hung on too long, as he last competed in March of 2012 and is 2-4 in his last 6 fights.
But for a moment in time, ‘Pequeno’ was the best. In December of 2003, he faced SHOOTO superstar Rumina Sato on what was the organization’s biggest show of the year. Sato was considered a wizard, and rightfully so. Few expected what happened at the time – but ‘Pequeno’ took out SHOOTO’s top gun with a guillotine choke in less than a minute. He was the best in the world.