Sunday, 13 April 2014

UFC Nogueira vs Nelson on ESPN - TV Review

It's time to step into the Octagon once more as we take a trip to Abu Dhabi for the UFC's latest Fight Night, shown live this past Friday night on EPSN here in Britain.

The broadcast began with lightweight action as Ramsey Nijem took on Beneil Dariush.

This was a great show opener. Nijem signalled his intent early on with a couple of kicks, and although Dariush looked to close the distance and did well in the brief clinch against the fence it wasn't long before Nijem took control with his striking.

Dariush began to look a class under his man as Nijem took control, and when he knocked Dariush down twice in quick succession he was all over him like a cheap suit. Dariush looked helpless as Nijem mixed in brief submission attempts with ground and pound, and with Dariush offering nothing in reply the referee stepped in to give Nijem the TKO win.

Welterweight action followed as John Howard went up against Ryan LaFlare.

This proved to be an intriguing three round affair with a nice mixture of grappling and striking and one of those moments that made every man watching wince just a little.

Both fighters put in good performances throughout, particularly early on when Howard got off some good strikes and LaFlare put in some good work on the ground, although Howard wasn't a slouch in that department either.

The tide turned a little when LaFlare connected with a low knee during a clinch in the second round. At one point it looked as if Howard wouldn't be able to continue, but after the obligatory rest period which involved a brief consultation with the doctor he continued, although at first it looked like the wrong decision as LaFlare took control.

That decision was soon justified when the third round began as the back and forth exchanges returned. Both fighters had their moments, but after Howard went for a leg submission in the final minute LaFlare regained control and took his man's back as the fight came to an end.

As for the judges they were in complete agreement as LaFlare took the unanimous decision. You have to wonder though what would have happened if Howard hadn't been injured by that groin strike.

The co-main event featured featherweight action as Clay Guida faced Tatsuya Kawajiri.

This one looked like it was going to end within the first few seconds when Guida connected with a big right that sent Kawajiri crashing, but the Japanese fighter managed to survive the American's onslaught, and from there these two fought at an almost frantic pace, especially in the first round when both men scored with slams and went for kimuras and the like.

It was pretty much the same thing throughout the rest of the fight. Guida, as always, was like a constant ball of energy throughout, while Kawajiri did a good job of keeping up with him, although he did visibly tire towards the end of the fight.

Kawajiri's best chance of victory came right towards the end when Guida slammed him to the mat again and quickly found himself in a guillotine attempt. It proved to be his last meaningful offence as Guida took control on the ground to close the fight out.

Which meant more work for the judges as they continued with their agreeing ways by giving Guida the unanimous decision.

The main event was a heavyweight affair as Minotauro Nogueira took on Roy Nelson.

If the powers that be wanted an explosive fight to end the show then they certainly got it here. After the initial feeling out period Nelson's striking came to the fore when he put Big Nog down around the one minute mark. The Brazilian looked hurt as he got back to his feet, although he seemed to recover a few seconds later.

Nelson played the patience game as he kept coming forward, and although he missed with one looping right hand it wasn't long before he had Nogueira in more trouble. Another big right from Big Country saw Nelson crumbling to the mat, and although he managed to get back to his feet he stumbled around the cage like an infant, and as Nelson went in for the kill it was another big right that sent Nogueira crashing to the mat again. That was enough as far as the referee was concerned as he waved the fight to give Nelson the knockout win.

In conclusion - the UFC's second trip to Abu Dhabi proved to be a very enjoyable affair, and thankfully we didn't have a repeat of what happened in the main event back in 2010.

All of the fights shown on the broadcast delivered, and there were some good performances from the likes of Roy Nelson and Ramsey Nijem, although one couldn't help but feel sympathy for John Howard, and you have to wonder how the fight would have gone if it hadn't been for Ryan LaFlare's stray knee.

As for my fight of the night no-prize that's a no brainer. Those in the know gave their award to Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri, and I see no reason to argue with them.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this show the thumbs up.