On Friday, April 11, the UFC hosted UFC Fight Night 39: Nogueira vs. Nelson from the DU Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

In the main event, former Pride and interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira squared off with Ultimate Fighter season 10 winner Roy Nelson. “Big Nog” looked to get back in the win column after succumbing to an armbar against Fabricio Werdum last June. The 37-year-old had been alternating wins and losses in the Octagon since 2008. Nelson, meanwhile, hoped to stop a two-fight skid. The former IFL champ had dropped back-to-back decisions to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic.

The co-main event featured a pivotal featherweight match-up between veteran Clay Guida and Japan’s Tatsuya Kawajiri. Guida was looking to rebound from the first knockout loss of his lengthy career, courtesy of Chad Mendes in August. Kawajiri, a Shooto, Pride and Dream veteran, stretched his winning streak to six with a submission win over Sean Soriano in his Octagon debut in January.

The eight-fight event kicked off Friday at 12:15 p.m. ET with five fights streaming on the promotion’s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. The four-fight main card followed at 2 p.m. ET, also on UFC Fight Pass.

Roy Nelson knocked Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira out cold to finish off the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi. Nelson rocked Nogueira early with an uppercut and followed it up with an overhand right. Nogueira was wobbly, but he was able to survive momentarily. Nelson stayed patient, but Nogueira never seemed to fully recover. Nelson threw his signature overhand right one last time and that was all.

Clay Guida rocked Tatsuya Kawajiri early and then controlled the grappling to get back in the win column. Guida knocked Kawajiri down very early with a huge right hand, but Kawajiri was able to recover. Guida had Kawajiri’s back close to the fence. While Guida had back control, Kawajiri looked to lock up a kimura grip. This was a popular position throughout the entire fight. Every time Kawajiri sold out on the kimura attempt Guida was able to scramble and escape. Guida’s final escape came late in the final round when he slammed Kawajiri to get out of a guillotine choke. Guida was very happy with his performance after the fight, mentioning he would take a fight at either lightweight or featherweight next. He mentioned Josh Thomson and Connor McGregor by name.

Ryan LaFlare got the better of the grappling exchanges to win a back-and-forth welterweight battle over John Howard. LaFlare was just the better grappler against the cage in the first round of the fight. Howard started to have more success in the second round, but his momentum was stuffed by a hard knee strike to the groin. Howard took nearly the entire five minutes to recover and he was clearly still in pain, but chose to continue. Howard did his best and had LaFlare on wobbly legs late in the second and early in the third round, but the groin strike had shaken him up too much. LaFlare controlled the ground game for the remainder of the fight and earned the unanimous decision.

Ramsey Nijem got the main card off to a huge start with the most impressive performance of his career. Nijem mauled Beneil Dariush for nearly the entire first round before earning the stoppage. Nijem was the more active fighter from the beginning. He peppered Dariush with some good punches before going in for the kill. Nijem hurt Dariush up against the cage, but amazingly Dariush was able to survive in the mean time. Nijem switched over to a guillotine choke, but when it became clear that Dariush wasn’t going to tap he went back to the strikes. Dariush held on as long as he could, but after more unanswered punches the referee had finally seen enough.

Jared Rosholt used his wrestling to earn a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Omielanczuck. Rosholt was smothering with his takedowns from the very beginning. Rosholt scored takedowns very early in each round and was able to hold position. Omielanczuck had brief success, hurting Rosholt with a left hand on the feet, but Rosholt just went back to his wrestling and took the decision.

Thales Leites made quick work of Trevor Smith to get his third straight victory since returning to the UFC. Leites landed three straight overhand rights until he dropped Smith. Leites followed that up with a few more unanswered punches and the fight was stopped.

Jim Alers was able to squeak out a victory over Alan Omer in a battle of UFC newcomers. Alers faced a very tough first round. Omer was able to kick Alers legs out from under him and also land some power punches. The tide turned about midway through the second round when Alers was able to get the fight to the ground. Alers spent the rest of that round and the majority of the third on top and landing enough ground-and-pound to get two of the three judges’ to score the fight in his favor.

Bantamweights Johnny Bedford and Rani Yahya kicked off the action, but unfortunately it ended with an indecisive outcome. Both fighters came out swinging early, but unfortunately their heads clashed in an exchange. The impact cut Bedford open and knocked out Yahya. Upon seeing the replay the referee ruled the bout a no-contest. Bedford protested and the two fighters exchanged heated words in the cage afterwards.

Roy Nelson def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by knockout (punch). Round 1, 3:37
Clay Guida def.  Tatsuya Kawajiri by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Ryan LaFlare def. John Howard by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Ramsey Nijem def. Beneil Dariush by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:20
Jared Rosholt def. Daniel Omielanczuk by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Thales Leites def. Trevor Smith by TKO (punches). Round 1, 0:45
Jim Alers def.  Alan Omer split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Johnny Bedford and  Rani Yahya ends in no contest (accidental head butt). Round 1, 0:39

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.