Gabe Killian’s Sneak Peek into the Main Card for UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi

Roy NelsonThe Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Abu Dhabi for UFC Fight Night 39, on April 11th, with nine scheduled bouts, including a four-fight main card that will be streaming live at 2pm ET on UFC Fight Pass. If interested in wagering on the match-ups on this card, you can do so at Several Bookmakerss Getting the action going for the main card will be a lightweight battle between a pair of grapplers from middle-eastern backgrounds, when the Iranian-American Beneil Dariush takes on the Palestinian-American Ramsey Nijem. Dariush made his Octagon debut less than three months ago, and was successful in his upset win over Charlie Brenneman. The Iranian rocked “The Spaniard” on the feet, before ending the fight with a rear naked choke submission on the mat. He certainly proved to be dangerous both on the feet and on the canvas, sending a message to the rest of the 155ers in the UFC. Nijem fought on the same card Dariush made his debut on, scoring a unanimous decision victory over fellow TUF season 13 veteran Justin Edwards. The win snapped a two fight losing streak and saved his job with the promotion. Now, he will be looking to build on that as he travels to Abu Dhabi. Dariush opened as a -210 betting favorite over Nijem, who was a +160 underdog, but money came in on Nijem driving the line back and forth to the current -190/+165. Next up on the main card is a welterweight tilt between the resurging 31-year old veteran John Howard and the rising 30 year old welterweight prospect Ryan LaFlare. During his first stint with the UFC, Howard won four in a row, and then lost three straight, which resulted in him being released from the promotion. He went 6-1 on the regional circuit, and then was called in to replace an injured Josh Samman on short notice against Urijah Hall. Samman himself was a replacement for Hall’s initial opponent, Nick Ring. It was a close, back-and-forth fight that took place on the feet, and included many smiles and high fives. Dana White was not happy with the fight, but Howard was, as he took a split decision victory on the judges’ scorecards. He followed that win with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Siyar Bahadurzada at December 168, and will now be looking to make it three in a row inside the Octagon against Long Island’s Ryan LaFlare. LaFlare made his promotional debut a year ago, scoring a unanimous decision victory over Ben Alloway. He followed that up with a unanimous decision victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio, and then stepped in on short notice to replace an injured Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 10 to take on Court McGee. His success continues, as LaFlare scored yet another unanimous decision victory, and a big one in his early Octagon career. He will now look to make it four in a row with a win over Howard, and the hopes of earning a fight with a top 10-15 caliber opponent. MMA Oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released LaFlare as a -230 favorite, with Howard being a +170 underdog, and the public has come in on the Long Islander, driving the current betting line to -300/+250. The co-main event of the evening will be a featherweight war between two of the toughest and wildest 145ers in the division. In a rare winner vs loser match-up, Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri will be taking on Clay “The Carpenter” Guida, and the winner get one step closer to the featherweight gold. Kawajiri was impressive in his UFC debut in January, scoring a second round rear naked choke submission victory over Sean Soriano. Guida, however, was on the losing end of his last contest, suffering the first T/KO defeat of his professional mixed martial arts career against current number one contender Chad “Money” Mendes. Out of the nine fights on the entire card, Kawajiri vs Guida is the fight I am looking forward to most. Guida has been fighting with a boring style more often than not lately, but I think this will prove to be another classic Clay Guida ‘Fight of the Night’-kind of scrap. The opening betting odds for this contest had Kawajiri as the favorite at -155, with Guida being an underdog at +115, but money came in and kept coming in on Guida, forcing the line to shift to “The Carpenter” being the favorite at -145, while “The Crusher” is now the underdog at +125. The main event for UFC Fight Night 39 will be a match-up between two veteran heavyweights looking to bounce back into the win column. Set for five rounds, but doubtful to last that long, UFC and Pride veteran Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will be squaring off against TUF season 10 winner Roy “Big Country” Nelson. “Big Nog” has not seen action since a second round armbar submission defeat at the hands of fellow Brazilian Fabricio Werdum 10 months ago, while it’s been nearly six months since now-light heavyweight Daniel Cormier outpointed “Big Country” en route to a unanimous decision victory on the judges’ scorecards. Both veterans have had plenty of time off to nurse injuries and work on their games, so I am expecting them to both be ready, and with the intentions of making a statement. “Big Nog” vs “Big Country” is a heavyweight bout that should prove to be exciting, and one that all but guarantees a finish. MMA Oddsbreaker’s Nick Kalikas released “Nog” as the underdog against Nelson at +150, with the former IFL heavyweight champion being the betting favorite at -190. Money came in on Nogueira, making the Brazilian a +145 dog currently, while driving Nelson’s line down to -165. Like with the Dariush/Nijem line, there has been plenty of back-and-forth action on this one, but despite the even action, I like Nelson to pull out the victory.

Written by Gabe Killian

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UFC Fight Night 39 Fight Breakdown: Ryan LaFlare (-290) vs. John Howard (+230)

UFC Fight Night 39 Fight Breakdown: Beneil Dariush (-185) vs. Ramsey Nijem (+160)