Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweights Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira went to war on Friday (April 11, 2014) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 39 from Du Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
See the video highlights here.
Both aging Top 15-ranked challengers were in dire need of a win. Nelson came in off two straight losses to top competition in Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, while Nogueira was last submitted by Fabricio Werdum to lose four out of seven.
Given the dangerous finishing skills of "Big Country" and "Big Nog," this bout had the potential to end quickly. And it did, with Nelson staking a claim at another huge fight in the UFC heavyweight division. Let's take a look back at how "Big Country" got back on track with a jaw-dropping knockout.
The main event bout began with Nogueira pushing forward. Nelson landed a light shot, and an exchange ensued with Nogueira scoring a few of his own. Nelson uncorked a huge uppercut to hurt Nogueira on the ground, but "Big Nog" recovered to get back on his feet.
Still, he appeared hurt as Nelson looked confident. "Big Country" found a home for another right over the top, and then a left as he exhibited a much more patient style than usual. Nogueira fought back with some strikes, but they didn't do much. Nelson unleashed his trademark bomb, dropping Nogueira again.
"Big Nog" was in big trouble.
He backed up as Nelson threw an absolutely devastating and perfectly timed knockout blow that stiffened Nogueira, walking off without any totally unnecessary follow-up shots.
For "Big Country," the win is undoubtedly one of the most pivotal of his entire career. If he had dropped three straight by repeatedly going to the well with his right hand, many would have been screaming for the notoriously rotund Nelson to receive his walking papers. Instead, he proved that he could still utilize his go-to tactic to win, and against a legend no less.
However, it was clearly far from the best version of that legend.
Nelson deserves a solid opponent in the relatively shallow UFC heavyweight division, and that opponent should be none other than fellow knockout striker Mark Hunt. Once "Super Samoan" returns from injury, that fight should be immediately booked for the fans.
For Nogueira, it could be time to step away from the sport he has been such a major part of for many years. It's clear that injuries and his many wars are beginning to take their toll on the aging champion's body, and he definitely has nothing left to prove in MMA.
There just aren't that many fights that make sense for him, and with his chin failing him, perhaps "Big Nog" should assume his place as one the greatest heavyweights to ever step into the cage.
"Big Country" got back on track with a huge knockout of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Who will be the next target for the beloved Nelson's heat-seeking right hand?