Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, 39, was looking to turn back time tonight (Sat., Aug. 1, 2015) at the expense of Stefan Struve -- who is 12 years his junior -- at UFC 190, which took place inside HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It didn't happen. And it probably never will at this advanced stage of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Nogueira cam out aggressive, landing a looping left hook and closing the distance as soon as humanly possible against the 7' Dutchman. Struve, however, offered stiff resistance for the first two minutes and then tagged Nogueira with a big right hand along the cage.
Nogueira's knees wobbled, but Struve could not capitalize right away, as the Brazilian went right back into the clinch. On a another break moments later, Struve landed another big right hand, but this time Nogueira tolerated it better. Nogueira whiffed on another takedown, and then after a brief exchange on the feet, it ended back along the cage where "Big Nog" landed some really nice punches.
With less than one minute remaining in the first round, the fighters mixed it up in the center of the Octagon, with Struve throwing good kicks to keep Nogueira honest and following up with hard shots.
Struve started of the second stanza with more kicks, but Nogueira was able to find an opening and back him up against the cage with several solid shots. Nogueira was able to sneak around his back, score a takedown and almost lock-in a rear-naked choke, but Struve was able to buck him off and get back to his feet.
Struve landed a nice straight right hand as Nogueira desperately tried to get him back down to the floor. Struve wiggled his way out and landed a nice shot on the break, which he followed with more leg kicks and jabs. With one minute remaining, Struve really began to settle into a groove, landing hard strikes that forced Nogueira once again to seek cover in the clinch along the cage.
Third and final round began with Struve using his legs, including a nice headlock. Once again, Nogueira worked hard to drag down "Skyscraper," but he had no luck. Struve drilled him with a kick to the body and then a knee to the face, but Nogueira kept coming forward.
Nogueira pinned him against the cage, again, midway through the round, but nothing came of it ... again. Struve nailed him with another head kick, but Nogueira continued to lumber forward in Zombie Mode. He landed a nice combination, but Struve paid him back with a huge right hand followed up by a jab.
With about 45 seconds remaining, Nogueira had little left as Struve just used his face as a speed bag. Nogueira landed a nice punch at the bell, but there was nothing behind it.
Nogueira put up a good fight, but it's clear he doesn't have much to offer. He lost a unanimous decision tonight, his fourth loss in his last five fights. He has made it clear that he is against retirement, but maybe he will have a change of heart after his latest sad setback.