UFC Fight Pass is presenting another exclusive offering with UFC Fight Night: Aub Dhabi featuring a five round heavyweight main event between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy “Big Country” Nelson. From top to bottom, this is the most stacked offering from the digital streaming service, and it’s fitting that “Minotauro” receives top billing. Currently ranked 11th in the division, he is one of the few that remain from the pre boom period where fighters were larger than life.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is my favorite fighter from the PRIDE days. Unfortunately, he is no longer that fighter. Fifteen years of hard combat has taken its toll on the former world champion. Tonight, he battles for relevance as opposed to title contention. It’s certainly not for a lack of trying, it’s simply a road that all the greats eventually travel. The thrill of the fight, the allure of the crowd, and the pursuit victory is a natural aphrodisiac that makes it difficult to know when it’s time to walk away.
In a way, myself and fans alike are enabling Nogueira to continue his quest for Octagon supremacy as his name on the marquee is guaranteed to open our wallets. The odds are slim that he gets past Roy Nelson, who often flirts with title contention but can never win the fight that matters. Nogueira’s wrestling has never been that good and Nelson is a good enough grappler where his defense will keep the Brazilian at bay for the full twenty-five minutes. Plus, Nelson’s right hand could easily end the night before it begins.
I’m holding out hope that we will see one more glimpse of the fighter that we used to know. The decline of Nogueira’s skills makes this a fool’s errand. Still, in this case, I’d rather be a fool hoping for something spectacular instead of sticking with the safe pick in Nelson. The end of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak, and the sudden passing of the Ultimate Warrior has me feeling extremely nostalgic. Nogueira’s brutal wars with Bob Sapp, Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop, and a host of others makes it easy to admire what he has accomplished in mixed martial arts.
Updated Roy Nelson defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via walk off knockout (punch) at 3:37 of the 1st Round