Roy Nelson lamped Minotauro at UFC Fight Night. | Photo: Warren Little/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Roy Nelson’s atomic right hand connected on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s chin, and the results were predictable.
Nelson (20-9, 7-5 UFC) highlighted the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to the Middle East by knocking out “Minotauro” with a wicked overhand right in the UFC Fight Night 40 headliner on Friday at du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. An unconscious and stiff Nogueira (34-9-1, 5-5 UFC) collapsed to the canvas 3:37 into round one, as the beloved Brazilian suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in his long and illustrious career.
“Any time you beat ‘Big Nog’... he’s a legend,” Nelson said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be fighting in MMA. He’s the heavyweight.”
“Minotauro” was in trouble from the start. Nelson tagged him with a right uppercut and followed with an overhand right less than 60 seconds into the match, driving him to the canvas in retreat. Later, “Big Country” set the former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder on wobbly legs again, patiently pursued him and delivered the fight-finishing blow with Nogueira in a slow backpedal.
“I kept on throwing the left hand,” Nelson said. “He’s got a hard head, so I knew I had to throw the right. My goal was to get a takedown per round and go five rounds and push the pace a little bit. It just so happened that my right hand landed first.”
The victory put a stop to Nelson’s two-fight losing streak.
“I always want to fight for the belt,” he said. “I don’t really care. Let me start right there. I’ll work my way backward.”
Guida Outduels ‘Crusher’ Kawajiri
In the co-main event, Jackson-Wink MMA featherweight Clay Guida outstruck and out-scrambled former Shooto champion Tatsuya Kawajiri to a unanimous decision. Guida (31-14, 11-8 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 marks, winning for the second time in his last three outings.
Guida leveled the “Crusher” with an overhand right inside the first 45 seconds before dodging an armbar from the savvy Japanese veteran. The 32-year-old spent much of the match controlling Kawajiri (33-8-2, 1-1 UFC) in the clinch and from top position, avoiding repeated kimura attempts and attacking with short punches when the opportunities presented themselves.
The loss was Kawajiri’s first since he downshifted to 145 pounds.
“I feel great,” Guida said. “I hope the Abu Dhabi fans liked that grappling match. Kawajiri is super skilled. We trained a lot on our feet. I thought [after] being in the Octagon [for] eight years, I was going to get my first real knockout; maybe next time.”
Undefeated LaFlare Downs Howard
Former Ring of Combat champion Ryan LaFlare kept his perfect professional record intact with a unanimous decision over John Howard in a featured battle at 170 pounds. All three judges ruled in favor of LaFlare (11-0, 4-0 UFC), though scores were not announced.
LaFlare corralled “Doomsday” with takedowns and scrambles. He also benefitted from an accidental groin strike in the second round that brought the match to a halt for five minutes. Though clearly compromised, Howard (22-9, 6-4 UFC) pressed forward in pain. He rattled LaFlare more than once with his hands -- he sat down the Blackzilians representative with a left hook-right uppercut combination in round two -- but too often found himself stuck on the bottom.
The defeat snapped Howard’s four-fight winning streak.
Nijem Hands Dariush First Loss
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem blasted through the previously unbeaten Beniel Dariush with first-round punches in a lightweight showcase. Nijem (9-4, 5-3 UFC) finished it 4:20 into round one, as he recorded his second straight victory.
A counter left hook marked the beginning of the end for Dariush (7-1, 1-1 UFC). The 24-year-old Kings MMA representative retreated to the fence, where Nijem swarmed him with punches and threatened him with a guillotine choke. Dariush fought valiantly to remain a factor in the bout, but his adversary gave him no refuge. Nijem kept firing punches, moved to mount and ultimately settled in a kneeling position, unleashing one last barrage that forced the stoppage.
“I came in with this energy,” Nijem said. “Being a Palestinian, it meant a lot to come out here and fight in front of you guys. He took a lot of damage and kept on fighting. I have a lot of respect for him. I got in his face yesterday, but I’m just here to fight. I’m here for one thing: I’m going to step up and win that title for the Middle East.”
Rosholt Controls, Dominates Omielanczuk
Jared Rosholt leaned on takedowns, ground-and-pound and a stifling top game, as he captured a unanimous verdict over Daniel Omielanczuk in a preliminary heavyweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it for Rosholt (10-1, 2-0 UFC), though scores were not announced.
Omielanczuk (16-4-1, 1-1 UFC), who entered the Octagon on a 12-fight winning streak, never posed much of a threat. Rosholt grounded the Pole inside the first minute of all three rounds and went to work, pairing knees and punches to the body with punches and elbows to the head.
A three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, Team Takedown’s Rosholt has won six fights in a row.
Leites Wins Sixth Straight
Nova Uniao’s Thales Leites needed less than a minute to dispatch Strikeforce veteran Trevor Smith with first-round punches in an undercard duel at 185 pounds. Smith (11-5, 1-2 UFC) succumbed to the blows 45 seconds into round one, as he lost for the fourth time in six appearances.
Leites (23-4, 8-3 UFC) backed up “Hot Sauce” with a pair of right hands, floored him with a short right hook to the chin and finished it with a volley of unanswered punches on the ground. The rejuvenated 32-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has rattled off six consecutive victories.
Alers Edges Fellow Debutant Omer
Takedowns and ground-and-pound carried onetime Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jim Alers to a split decision over Alan Omer in a preliminary featherweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Alers (13-1, 1-0 UFC).
Omer (18-4, 0-1 UFC) landed in combination throughout, a ringing right uppercut his most trusted and effective weapon. However, the Germany-based Iraq native had issues achieving and maintaining advantageous positions on the ground. Alers seemed to turn the tide in the second round, where he forced the former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion to retreat to his back with a counter right hand. Punches and elbows flew next.
With the outcome still very much in doubt, Alers struck for multiple takedowns in round three, opening a cut near his counterpart’s left eye with a series of elbow and shoulder strikes. The 27-year-old Alers has won his last nine fights.
Bedford-Yahya Ruled No-Contest
An inadvertent first-round clash of heads resulted in a no-contest between “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 semifinalist Johnny Bedford and 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Rani Yahya in an undercard scrap at 135 pounds. The end came just 39 seconds into round one.
The incident left Yahya dazed and unfit to continue, while Bedford exited the cage with a nasty gash on the left side of his forehead.