UFC Fight Night 39 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Nelson vs. Nogueira
UFC Fight Night 39 began with a no-contest. And it didn't end with much of one, either.
In the main event of the card, which took place in Abu Dhabi and aired Friday in the United States, heavyweight Roy Nelson brandished his signature right hand to flatten Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and take a first-round knockout victory.
Though Nogueira absorbed a few of Nelson's famous power shots, he could only take so much, and eventually his lights flickered off. While Nelson's UFC future is undoubtedly secure, Nogueira, 37, will face questions about his road ahead, now that he's lost three of his last four while battling injuries over the past three-plus years.
But that was only the topper on what was frankly a strange night of fights. (In hindsight, those illegal headbutts in the card's first bout really set the tone. More on those presently.)
And you know what? The final stat lines only reveal so much, especially for a card as weird as this one. Here are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 39.
Winner: Roy Nelson
Does the win make him a contender? No. Was it unexpected? No. Was it part of a high-profile fight card? Nope.
But after two straight losses, Roy Nelson needed this one. He got it, and he got it in his own trademark style: the overhand right.
There was a thought that Nelson (a jiu-jitsu black belt whether he remembers it or not) and Nogueira (one of the most legendary jiu-jitsu players in MMA history) might mix it up a little on the ground in this main event. Nothing doing. The entire fight played out on the feet, with Nelson walking Nogueira down and "Big Nog" trying to figure out how he could simultaneously stay clear of Nelson's power hand while still mounting an offense.
An uppercut to the solar plexus signaled the beginning of the end for Nogueira. Nelson, a smarter fighter than he gets credit for, bided his time, using great fight intuition to time those big blows perfectly and chip away at whatever was left of Nogueira's chin.
Eventually, with about 90 seconds to go, Nelson dropped the final bomb. Nogueira was stiff before he hit the canvas, and Nelson turned and walked away, satisfied that the fight was over.
Maybe it doesn't land him a title shot. But it keeps him in the rankings and just might get fans a step closer to that Roy Nelson vs. Mark Hunt Bar Brawl to End All Bar Brawls that they've been craving lo these many years.
Either way, good on Nelson. There's nothing wrong with dancing with the horse that brung you.
Loser: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
How much longer can this go on? Or, maybe more aptly, how much longer should it?
In December 2011, Frank Mir broke Nogueira's humerus (that's the largest of the arm bones) with a kimura. Big Nog missed 10 months. In his return bout, he submitted Dave Herman, who admitted to not believing in jiu-jitsu, as if the martial art lived at the end of a rainbow and flew on gossamer wings.
Injuries kept Big Nog out for about another year. On his return, he lost by submission to Fabricio Werdum. Another 10-month absence, and now this.
Nogueira is 37 going on 52. His legendary toughness and skill set are eroding like white sand in a hurricane. He is a former champion in multiple promotions and surefire Hall of Famer.
But enough is enough already. He has lost three of four, and that was stretched out over two-and-a-half years. All three of those losses came by stoppage, two of them downright gruesome.
I would wonder whether someone has to get hurt before Nogueira sees the logic in riding off into the sunset. But that's already happened. So I'm fresh out of ideas.
Winner: Clay Guida
This could have gone the other way. But in Clay Guida's case, an actual win trumps everything.
He had his chance to wrap things up early in his co-main event bout with liked, respected and diminished Japanese mainstay Tatsuya Kawajiri. Guida rocked his opponent Kawajiri with a big right hand but couldn't quite close the deal.
The two engaged in some nice grappling exchanges and scrambles, and Guida got in a couple of cage-rattling slam takedowns, but as the time wore on, Guida reverted to that defensive, conservative, attrition-based approach that has driven a decent segment of the fanbase a little batty these past couple of years.
Kawajiri, now 35 years old and 43 fights into his pro career, couldn't offer stiff enough resistance. Guida took the decision. Though his performance diminished as the minutes ticked by, he still enjoyed his usual loud support from the fans as he moved with relative ease toward only his second win in the past five contests.
It wasn't always pretty, but Guida took care of business.
Winner: Desk Jockeys
Were you looking for a little diversion on a Friday afternoon? UFC Fight Night 39 delivered in exquisite fashion.
First of all, the undercard began just after noon on the East Coast, and the main event wrapped up right before 4 p.m. It was the perfect segment of time for whiling away the final few hours before the weekend kicks off.
Second, the whole thing unfolded exclusively on UFC Fight Pass. So, if your office firewall allowed it (or you had your own laptop, phone or tablet handy), you simply signed in and fired it up. Who's to say you're not shouting encouragement at your own PowerPoint presentation?
Third, the card was, well, really entertaining. Maybe not in the traditional, "super important and/or competitive" sense of the term, but hey, we'll take what we can get. And this was a big win for the working class.
Winner: John Howard's, Uh, Guts
The blow didn't look particularly nasty, but John Howard's face did.
An inadvertent knee from Ryan LaFlare landed in just the right spot. You know what spot I mean, gents. Howard fell to the ground, growling in pain.
Fighters in that situation get five minutes to recover. At about the three-minute mark, a doctor came in to help Howard. At one point, the doctor pressed on his abdomen, and Howard collapsed back to the floor. The doctor grimaced.
But Howard got up and pressed on. He even put up a decent fight, considering how unstarched he was after the incident. He lost a decision (grimacing in pain as he stood motionless next to the referee), but did what most mortals wouldn't or couldn't have.
As such, a shot to the stones demonstrated that Howard really has big, well, you know.
Loser: Johnny Bedford
You knew this one might be a strange day at the office almost instantly after the opening bell.
Bantamweight Johnny Bedford moved in to throw punches at Rani Yahya. Yahya hit the ground. Great win, right? Wrong. Not one but two clear headbutts—not the punches—had been the real reasons for the knockout.
As such, the bout was ruled a no-contest. The announcement was made, and Bedford hit the roof, vehemently and repeatedly objecting, and even getting into a post-decision shoving match with Yahya.
As we wait for the rematch announcement that I surely hope to gosh is coming, this tweet from UFC on Fox sums up the situation nicely:
I don’t understand Bedford’s case. You can’t win via headbutt, dude. Calm down.— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) April 11, 2014
Loser: Abu Dhabi
Two UFC cards in Abu Dhabi—two events that weren't exactly barnburners.
This one was certainly better than the first attempt, UFC 112. That snoozer of a card was topped by one of the most infamously dull fights of all time: Anderson Silva's mocking, inactive title defense against a passive, uninspired Demian Maia.
UFC Fight Night 39 had its moments, but might ultimately be remembered most for the one-sided main event, a nasty groin shot, some nastier head butts and that's about it.
Throw in the fact that the UFC and Flash Entertainment—the Abu Dhabi quasi-government organization that owns 10 percent of the UFC—took very real criticism in MMA circles about Abu Dhabi's political practices, labor laws and disposable stadiums, and, well, you don't exactly have a banner week for combat sports mavens in the United Arab Emirates.
Full Card Results
Roy Nelson def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by KO, 3:37, Rd. 1
Clay Guida def. Tatsuya Kawajiri by unanimous decision
Ryan LaFlare def. John Howard by unanimous decision
Ramsey Nijem def. Beneil Dariush by TKO, 4:20, Rd. 1
Jared Rosholt def. Daniel Omielanczuk by unanimous decision
Thales Leites def. Trevor Smith by TKO, 0:45, Rd. 1
Jim Alers def. Alan Omer by split decision
Rani Yahya vs. Johnny Bedford ruled no-contest (illegal headbutts from Bedford)
Scott Harris writes about MMA and, sometimes, other topics for Bleacher Report and, sometimes, other places. Follow Scott on Twitter if you feel so inclined.