Roy Nelson revived his UFC career in a major way with a devastating performance against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi. “Big Country” made quick work of his legendary opponent by finishing him in the first round of their main event heavyweight clash.
Nelson had struggled in recent decision losses to Daniel Cormier at UFC 166 and Stipe Miocic at UFC 161. He had a difficult time finding the mark with his patented right hand and was simply outworked in suffering those back-to-back losses. That wasn’t an issue against the 37-year-old Brazilian as Nelson rocked “Big Nog” early in the opening round with a huge right uppercut and would continue to find an opening for his power punches.
Nogueira seemed to clear his head after the initial onslaught but was badly wobbled again by a right hand, and Nelson would close the show with a picture perfect right hand that crumpled Nogueira to the canvas out cold at the 3:37 mark of round 1.
“Big Country” showed why he can be one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the organization in improving to 20-9. He has 13 knockouts to his credit and it was his seventh inside the Octagon. It was Nelson’s first KO since stopping Cheick Kongo back at UFC 159. The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner clearly rejuvenated his career with an emphatic victory that also produced a Performance of the Night bonus.
While Nelson says he’s interested in fighting for the heavyweight title, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Personally, I’d love to see Nelson matched up against Mark Hunt next. That would be a fight involving two huge punchers with granite chins.
As for Nogueira, the former Pride heavyweight champion and former UFC interim titleholder is just 5-5 during his Octagon tenure. It was a brutal knockout loss and it looks as though all the career wars and Father Time have finally caught up with him. It marked the first time in his 45-fight career that he’s lost consecutive fights and may very well be the end of the road.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports