In November of 2001, Pride was to have their top two contenders fight for their newly created heavyweight title.
Antonio Rodrigo Noqueira was coming off of a first round destruction of Mark Coleman, and was widely considered a new force in the sport. Heath Herring had recently stopped Mark Kerr.
The two met for the title at Pride 17. For 20 minutes, Nogueira dominated Herring no matter where the fight took place.
Herring showed his toughness by going the distance; taking the strikes and slipping out of every submission. The Japanese fans loved it. Every time you thought Herring was going to tap, he would find a way out.
Nonetheless, he was on the defensive for the distance and Nogueira became the first Pride heavyweight champ. He also became the first member of "The Heath Herring Club" by using Herring as a springboard to become recognized as the top heavyweight in the game.
Nogueira went on to solidify himself as the leader of the club by beating Herring two more times.
The rematch took place in the second round of Pride's 2004 heavyweight tournament. After a first round where Herring held his own, he was quickly choked-out within 30 seconds of the second round.
The third fight took place in 2007 in Nogueira's UFC debut. After a first round of being thoroughly outstruck, Herring landed a kick to the head of Nogueira, dazing him and dropping him to the ground. Apparently afraid he might actually win a fight against Nogueira, Herring let him stand up and survive to the end of the round.
In the second round Nogueira was still hurt, but was allowed to recover and take control, eventually leading to a win by decision.
This win earned Nogueira a shot at the UFC interim title, again using a Herring win as a springboard for bigger things. He went on to win that title, becoming the only man to hold titles in both Pride and UFC.