UFC Fight Night Abu Dhabi (39) was the UFC’s first return to the city of Abu Dhabi in four years and it left a much more enjoyable impressive–at least in the cage–after the 8 fights on the card concluded. One of the smaller UFC cards, with two fights being cancelled in the week leading up to the event. But the stars still came out and performed in front of over 8,000 at the custom built outdoor venue, du Arena.
Third Star – Clay Guida
Clay Guida is no stranger when it comes to fighting top Japanese talent, previously defeating Takanori Gomi and Hatsu Hioki in the UFC, Guida added one more name to his list. Guida was in a bit of a must-win situation coming into the co-main event in Abu Dhabi, but he flourished against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Guida nearly achieved his first career knockout victory when he dropped Kawajiri with a huge looping right and early in the first. But Kawajiri would recover, leading to an entertaining 3-round fight–that ended up winning fight of the night honours. Guida using slam after slam and takedown after takedown to neutralize his opponent’s submission attempts and scrambles. Clay Guida would shutout the Japanese featherweight, winning all 3 rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
Guida followed up the victory by calling out the much talked about, Conor McGregor in his post-fight interview.
Second Star – Roy Nelson
There are really only two outcomes when ‘Big Country’ Roy Nelson steps into the cage, fans have come to expect either a) a first round knockout (Roy has achieved 6 first round knockouts in his 7 career UFC victories) or b) a unanimous decision loss. Well today, the fans in Abu Dhabi got the former, as Roy Nelson used the loaded weapon that is his overhand right, and put the lights out on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the first round of the main event. Nelson bounced back from back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier in a huge way, first dropping Big Nog twice in the opening round before finishing the fight with a walk away knockout that sent Nogueira crumbling to the mat. Nelson was able to absorb the boxing of Nogueira as he continued to push forward and although did not possess quicker hands, he was able to uncork and consistently land the overhand right on a slow footed Minotauro.
Nelson called for a title shot post-fight, which he likely will not get, but considering his previous 2 loses in his last 6 fights have come against top 10 heavyweights, and being a top 10 heavyweight himself. He may just be one or two victories away from a title shot in the shallow heavyweight division.
First Star – Ramsey Nijem
Rasmey Nijem, a +300 underdog in his fight against the undefeated 7-0 Beneil Dariush, proved the odds makers wrong. Fighting in front of his middle eastern people, the Palestinian Nijem was inspired to fight and represent in front of the UAE. And represent he did, using his striking to keep Dariush from getting the takedown in the fight. Nijem rocked his opponent in the first round with a combination ending with a left hook on the button that staggered Draiush. From there, Ramsey would be relentless in pursuit of the finish, continually landing ground and pound on a downed opponent as Beneil looked for any way to survive the onslaught, but it would be too much as the referee stepped in to put a stop to the fight. Nijem’s first round TKO victory had him elated as he shouted on the mic post-fight that he’s going to bring a title to the middle east.
Nijem offered up some of his thoughts during the post-fight press conference in relation to fighting in front of his middle eastern audience.