The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for the latest in their Fight Pass cards. The card is headlined by a pair of heavyweights looking to rebound and get back into the win column. On one side you have Roy Nelson who looks to break free of a two fight skid in which he lost both bouts via decision. Nogueira is looking to bounce back from a 2013 submission loss to Fabricio Werdum. It is an interesting position both men find themselves in en route to making one final title run in their stories careers. Both men are 37 and more than likely only have one more chance at making a true run for the belt. Of course what makes the fight interesting is the fact the facing each other will ensure that only one of them gets a chance. I’m not saying that this is a “loser leaves town” situation as plenty of guys have managed to fight into their 40’s but it is simply unrealistic to expect someone to be at the top of the division so late into their career.
The fight itself is going to be the classic striker versus grappler contest. While Roy Nelson is a heck of a BJJ guy himself, his true bread and butter is his powerful right hand. Nogueira on the other hand will of course look to get the fight to the ground and use his Jiu-Jitsu to try and work the submission. Looking at the stats Minotauro will have an uphill battle going for the finish because Nelson has never been submitted. A knockout is also a hard sell for Nogueira seeing as only three of his 34 wins have come via knockout. His best bet will be to try and outwork Nelson who has been known to slow down in the later rounds and work to a decision. Fight smart and not be reckless because that right hand is dangerous in any round. Minotauro has won 10 out of 14 fights that have gone the distance in his career. For Nelson as I said a knockout is his best bet seeing as 12 of his 19 victories have come via that method. While Nogueira’s chin isn’t what it used to be he has still only been knocked out twice in his career. In terms of a decision, Nelson hasn’t been very successful in bouts that go until the final round’s conclusion, only winning 2 of his 10 fights that go the distance.
This is a tough one for me as I have a tremendous amount of respect for both men as fighters. If I was a betting man though I would have to lean slightly towards Nelson via knockout. I can see this one playing out a bit like the recent Shogun/Henderson rematch with Nogueira doing well before ultimately getting caught.
In the co-main event Clay Guida collides with Tatsuya Kawajiri. Kawajiri is unbeaten since dropping to Featherweight in 2011 and is in the midst of a 6 fight win streak. Guida is 1-1 since dropping to Featherweight and looks to rebound from his recent loss to Chad Mendes. Some believe Guida may have his back against the wall in this fight following the UFC being critical of some of his recent performances and he could be on the chopping block if he loses. While I think such an action would be harsh it needs to be remembered that the UFC still has quite a few more contracts then they want following the Strikeforce absorption, and they have been cutting guys who are perceived as “former contenders”. For Guida I’ve never bought into the hype of him being a boring fighter since moving training camps but it still is a criticism that lingers. However an exciting performance here could put him back in the good graces of the UFC brass.
For Guida he will need to use his awkward movement and stay busy to throw Kawajiri off and not let him get into a rhythm. Kawajiri is very well-rounded and is equally dangerous on the ground as he is on the feet. Both are very even with their takedown defense, each stuffing 68% of the takedowns attempted on them. Kawajiri is the more accurate striker and with a fight that will more than likely be contested on the feet I see that being the difference maker. I expect a razor thin fight but I got to think this goes to decision where Kawajiri gets the nod.
Main Card (airs live at 2PM EST on UFC Fight Pass)
- #11 Minotauro NogueiraRoy Nelson (34-8-1) vs #9 Roy Nelson (20-9-0) Heavyweight Bout
- #9 Clay Guida (30-11-0) vs #12 Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-7-2) Featherweight Bout
- John Howard (22-8-0) vs Ryan LaFlare (10-0-0) Welterweight Bout
- Ramsey Nijem (9-4-0) vs Beneil Dariush (7-0-0) Lightweight Bout
Preliminary Card (airs live at 12:15pm EST on UFC Fight Pass)
- Jared Rosholt (9-1-0) vs Daniel Omielanczuk (16-3-1) Heavyweight Bout
- Thales Leites (22-4-0) vs Trevor Smith (11-4-0) Middleweight Bout
- Alan Omer (18-3-0) vs Jim Alers (12-1-0) Featherweight Bout
- Rani Yahya (19-8-0) vs Johnny Bedford (19-11-1) Bantamweight Bout
Check back as the fights start for live results.
- Johnny Bedford and Rani Yahya fight to a No Contest at 0:39 of Round 1 Due to an unintentional headbutt
- Jim Alers defeats Alan Omer via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Thales Leites defeats Trevor Smith via TKO at 0:45 of Round 1
- Jared Rosholt defeats Daniel Omielanczuk via Unanimous Decision (Scores Not Announced)
- Ramsey Nijem defeats Beneil Dariush via TKO at 4:20 of Round 1
- Ryan LaFlare defeats John Howard via Unanimous Decision (Scores Not Announced)
- Clay Guida defeats Tatsuya Kawajiri via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Roy Nelson defeats Minotauro Nogueira via Knockout at 3:37 of Round 1
UFC Post Fight Awards
Fight of the Night: Clay Guida vs Tatsuya Kawajiri
Performance of the Night # 1: Ramsey Nijem
Performance of the Night # 2: Roy Nelson