Gabe Killian’s UFC Fight Night 39 Wrap-Up

Ramsey NijemUFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi ended with a big bang! A picture perfect way to wrap up the Middle Eastern night, “Big Country” sent “Big Nog” to the canvas with his trademark right hand in a bonus winning walk-off knockout. It was one for the highlight reel, and I would not be surprised if it makes ESPN’s top 10 list for the day. While the Brazilian had previously suffered two T/KO defeats, this was the first time he was put out cold. The show ended on a high note, but things did not start off that way… In the opening bout for the preliminary card, Johnny Bedford knocked out Rahni Yahya with a head-butt, and after Bedford was finished celebrating his victory, the fight was ruled a No Contest, at which point the Ohio native went crazy. The bantamweights engaged in a post-fight argument in the middle of the cage, with Bedford saying he wanted to continue fighting right then and there. The Brazilian implied Bedford was being unprofessional, and both men challenged each other to a rematch, which I think we will be getting. The only other strange occurrence during the show came in a main card welterweight bout, when John Howard took a shot to the groin from the Blackzilian Ryan LaFlare. “Doomsday” took nearly the entire five minutes of time offered to recover from the injury, and they resumed the action. He went on to get the better of LaFlare for the remainder of the round, however he came up just short in the third. With the Long Islander getting the better of Howard in the first frame, he took a unanimous 29-28 nod on the judges’ scorecards. In the upset of the night, Ramsey Nijem took out the much hyped Beneil Dariush via TKO in the very first round of action. Nijem showed great aggression in this bout, both on the feet and in the ground and pound. I believe it was the best performance of the Palestinian’s career, and the result was one that sure surprised me. Even just moments before the referee intervened to call off the fight, I was still thinking that Dariush would survive and finish Nijem in the second or third. A very impressive performance by Nijem, the switch from Utah to California has clearly made a difference. Former UFC middleweight title challenger Thales Leites earned his first stoppage since his return to the Octagon. With a first round TKO of Trevor Smith, the Brazilian is now 3-0 in his second stint with the promotion. He asked for a top 10 opponent during the post-fight press conference, and after that impressive performance, he may very well get one. It is worth noting that Leites’ TKO of his Octagon career, which dates back to 2006. The ‘Fight of the Night’ was the co-main event between lightweights turned featherweights Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri. It was a fun fight that saw a lot of entertaining grappling exchanges between the veterans. After three hard-fought rounds, it was “The Carpenter” who got his hand raised, winning every single round on all three judges’ scorecards for a unanimous 30-27 decision victory. Post-fight, Guida said he would like to fight Conor McGregor at featherweight and Josh Thompson at lightweight. It was an impressive performance by Guida, and a very big win. It has certainly put the 32-year old right back into the mix of things. Nijem’s TKO upset of the Iranian Beneil Dariush and Leites’ own TKO over Trevor Smith were two of the most memorable parts of the show, but the most memorable was certainly Nelson’s one-punch walk-off knockout of Nogueira. Many MMA fans and media took to Twitter after the bout, calling for the Brazilian’s retirement. While I could also make a case for “Big Nog” calling it quits, I don’t think the result of this fight is a good reason to use for it. What happened to him is what would happen to most heavyweights who step into the Octagon against “Big Country” and trade with him. Sure, it was not a great outing for Nogueira, but isn’t a reason to the jump the gun on calling for his retirement. I could make a case for him retiring, but I could also make a case for him sticking around. That is because he looked to be in better physical shape than he has in recent years. He looked physically better than he did against Dave Herman and Frank Mir, and he seemed more mentally in-tune. Before this main event bout, I was thinking “Big Nog” should already be retired, but after seeing him in good shape and focused, I started to believe that the 37-year old still has some fight left in him. Although he lost, it showed in the fight, too. The Brazilian was moving around pretty well and displaying great footwork. Unfortunately, Nelson’s fist is Nelson’s fist; it will stop just about anybody. Post-fight, “Big Nog” has been reported to have said that he wants one last fight against Frank Mir before he hangs up the gloves for good. As a fan of both heavyweights and mixed martial arts, in general, that is a fight you could sign me up for. Speaking of retirement, that’s what Kawajiri was planning on doing if he lost his UFC debut. He went on to defeat Sean Soriano via second round rear naked choke submission, but in an effort to make it 2-0 on his run towards a featherweight title shot, he hit a hairy wall known as Clay Guida. Now that a title fight has slipped from his fingertips, “The Crusher” may again be riding off into the sunset.

Written by Gabe Killian

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