The Road Back Starts in Abu Dhabi (UFC Fight Night 39 Review)

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira v Roy NelsonThe UFC is loaded with fighters that have seen success only to watch it fall away with a single fight. That is just the fight game as it is rarely about what a fighter has done in the past and rather about their last fight. Fighters can spend long careers building up impressive winning streaks only to lose the fight that would give them a championship fight. Some fighters take a long time to get that championship fight and many times their entire careers are spent trying to build up to a title fight only to come up just short of earning the fight. Then again some fighters can lose all of their momentum only to win one fight and immediately enter the title conversation. Sometimes all it takes is a win against a big name fighter to put their name back into the title conversation. It is the fast track to putting their names into the title conversation but it is a dangerous one as these fights are not easy to win for any fighter. Two fighters would travel to Abu Dhabi looking for that fast track to the title conversation in the heavyweight division. Roy Nelson and Minotauro Nogueira had both seen similar career paths as they were those fighters that would build up a number of wins only to falter when they got close. Both had also been doing this for a long time as veterans of MMA both looking to try to get to the top of the biggest promotion in the world. Nelson seemed to be on his way to the heavyweight championship until two straight losses to Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier ended his run and seemed to put a lot in doubt about the rest of his career. Meanwhile Minotauro Nogueira has been seen as an aging superstar who was coming off of a loss to Fabricio Werdum and a career that was starting to see more losses than wins. Both are big names in the UFC and a win for either fighter seemed to mean a chance for either fighter to enter the title conversation without having to string together a number of wins to get there. Not only was this a matchup of two fighters hoping to get back on track but it was a matchup of two very distinct styles of fighting. Roy Nelson makes no illusions over what he wants to do as he has some of the strongest punches in the heavyweight division and loves to knockout his opponents. He also has a good ground game but does prefer to stay standing. Minotauro Nogueira has been one of the best ground specialists in the heavyweight division for years and most would know that he wants to take the fight to the ground. Nogueira, like Nelson, has the ability to fight on the other end as well with decent stand-up. It was another classic matchup of striker against wrestler with both fighters looking to take the win and earn their spot among the other title contenders in the division. Leading up to the fight the question was about whether or not this fight would make it to the ground or stay standing. If it remained standing the advantage would be to Nelson while if it went to the ground the thought was that Nogueira would have the advantage. As the fight began the standup game quickly became more important that fighting on the ground. Nelson would land some big shots early in the fight and would make this a standup war immediately. Nogueira would show some fight back though as he would swing away and catch Nelson a few times himself. Still the majority of the damage was being brought by Nelson and it seemed inevitable that the fight was about to end. As much as Nogueira continued to stay standing Nelson continued to land big shots until he finally caught Big Nog with a right hook that sent the legend to the mat and ended the fight. It wasn’t exactly what Nelson had apparently planned with his strategy being revealed as to try to take the fight to the ground. That was until he landed his big shots where the strategy changed and he immediately changed to a stand up game. The change would work and would give Nelson a big win that has seemingly launched him into title contention. Nogueira’s loss would be his second in a row and with time running out on his career he will likely not get back into the title race before he officially retires. For Nelson his #9 ranking is sure to improve as he may now only be a few wins away from getting his title shot especially if he keeps winning like this.

The excitement was not limited to the main event and it is never limited to other fights when The Carpenter is on the card. Clay Guida is a main attraction every time that he is put on the card as his energy makes him a fan favourite. The energy has not always translated to the win column though and for that reason Guida continued to try to extend his career. Guida had taken runs at the lightweight title for years but continued to fall short of getting that title shot. To help him extend his career Guida would drop a weight class to Featherweight and look to begin a new run at a different title. He would continue this run against another fighter looking to do the same thing. Tatsuya Kawajiri had spent years at lightweight through much of his time at DREAM and Strikeforce. After losing his chance at the Strikeforce Lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez Kawajiri would drop to Featherweight and begin a run of 6-straight wins in the new weight class and would earn him a contract with the UFC where he would win in his debut against Sean Soriano. Kawajiri was looking to continue his great run and move further up the ladder in the division to try to get into the top 10 of the division. The fight would live up to its billing as a potential fight of the night candidate as Guida used his signature style to press the fight the entire time. Guida would continue to press forward and would give Kawajiri little room to breath. He would take the fight to the ground and would continue to try to stay busy enough to win the fight. In the end it was all too much for Kawajiri to handle and Guida would take the Unanimous Decision win. Kawajiri is sure to be back after this loss as he is still 6-1 in his last 7 fights and will try to restart a run at the title. Meanwhile Guida would call out Featherweight Connor McGregor, he became the second person to do that on the night, and Lightweight Josh Thomson. Guida is looking to make an impact in either weight class and is sure to move towards a title shot if he can continue to win exciting fights.


Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
Roy Nelson would have a great showing with the spotlight on him as he would take full advantage of the focus beating Minotauro Nogueira with a big right hand KO and earning an extra $50,000

Performance of the Night
It was another great number of big finishes including Ramsey Nijem who would earn a quick TKO to earn the win against Beneil Dariush and some extra money with the Performance of the Night bonus

Fight of the Night
Clay Guida is used to earning some extra money with the bonuses and he would pick up another one when he and Tatsuya Kawajiri would earn fight of the night honours for their three round war


Fight Results

Main Event:
Roy “Big Country” Nelson def. Minotauro Nogueira
(KO; Rd. 1)

Main Card:
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida def. Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri
(Unanimous Decision)

Ryan LaFlare def. John “Doomsday” Howard
(Unanimous Decision)

Ramsey Nijem def. Beneil Dariush
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt def. Daniel Omielanczuk
(Unanimous Decision)

Thales Leites def. Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Jim “The Beast” Alers def. Alen Omer
(Split Decision)

Rani Yahya vs. Johnny “Brutal” Bedford
(No Contest)


Upcoming Events

TUF Nations Finale: Bisping vs. Kennedy (Wednesday April 16th; 7:00 pm ET)
Quebec City, Quebec (Colisée Pepsi)
Main Event: Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy
Notable: Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou vs. Sheldon Westcott [TUF Nations Middleweight Title]
Notable: Chad “The Disciple” Laprise vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier [TUF Nations Welterweight Title]

UFC on Fox 11: Werdum vs. Browne (Saturday April 29th; 8:00 pm ET)
Orlando, Florida (Amway Center)
Main Event: Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs. Travis “Hapa” Browne
Notable: Meisha “Cupcake” Tate vs. Liz “Girlrilla” Carmouche
Notable: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Edson “Junior” Barboza

UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira (Saturday April 26th; 10:00 pm ET)
Baltimore, Maryland (Baltimore Arena)
Main Event: Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Glover Teixeira [Light Heavyweight Title]
Notable: Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson
Notable: Luke Rockhold vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch

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