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UFC heads to Abu Dhabi

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Event: UFC Fight Night 39
Date: April 11, 2014
Venue: du Arena
City: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Heavyweight Bout: Minotauro Nogueira (34-8-1) vs. Roy Nelson (20-9)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Nelson -160, Nogueira +130

Two contrasting styles will clash when Minotauro Nogueira and Roy Nelson battle at UFC Fight Night on Friday in Abu Dhabi.

Nogueira is looking to bounce back from a loss against Fabricio Werdum on June 8, 2013 at UFC on Fuel 10. In that match, Werdum was able to get an arm-bar locked in the second round to get the victory. Nogueira has not been himself in his past seven matches, posting a record of only 3-4 during that timeframe. However, when you look at his overall resume, he has proven throughout his career that he can compete with the best of the best with wins against six former UFC champions: Randy Couture, Ricco Rodriguez, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman and Dan Henderson. While he is terrific with his ground game, Nogueira has been knocked out in the first round in two of his past five fights. That doesn't bode well against a knockout artist like Nelson. The fan favorite is coming off two consecutive losses to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, with both of those matches ending by way of unanimous decision. The knock on "Big Country" Nelson's entire career has been an inability to go the distance because of his lack of cardio. However, one thing he does possess is the ability to knock his opponent at any moment. He is extremely powerful, and is looking to end the match in knockout fashion, as he has done in all of his career UFC wins.

Of his 20 career victories, Nelson has won by knockout 13 times, while winning by submission four times and decision three times. There is no secret that he wants to end the match with his powerful fists, but he must be careful that he doesn’t just start swinging for the fences early because that could put him in a bad situation. He attempts 5.1 strikes per minute, compared to just 2.2 by Nogueira. However, he does not have a huge advantage when it comes to landing strikes (2.1 for Nelson, compared to just 1.9 strikes by Nogueira). The 37-year-old hails from Las Vegas, so he will have the crowd in his favor. But Nelson must keep this match on his feet, where he can use his 23-pound advantage (263 to 240) to deliver the devastating punches. If this fight goes to the ground, Nelson will be in trouble.

The 37-year-old Nogueira has an impressive 34 victories in his career, with 21 of them coming by way of submission. He also has 10 by decision and only three by knockout. He is the complete opposite of Nelson, which will set up an exciting matchup where both fighters understand they have to control the style of the fight. While he showed he can end a match with a knockout punch against Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 in 2011, he will need to bring the fight to the mat where he has the ability to wear Nelson out. The Brazilian-born Nogueira has a takedown average of 1.33, compared to only 0.51 for Big Country. Nelson does a much better job of defending against the takedown (58%) compared to his opponent (36%), but he has not faced anyone with the takedown ability of Nogueira, whose takedown accuracy is 33% (Nelson is 18%). If this match goes to the ground, the 6-foot-3 Nogueira, who stands three inches taller than Nelson, will be in great shape to get the win.

Featherweight Bout: Clay Guida (30-11) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-7-2)

Sportsbook.ag Line: Guida -135, Kawajiri +105

Clay Guida will look to bounce back from a loss as he takes on Tatsuya Kawajiri on the main card at UFC Fight Night on Friday in Abu Dhabi.

Although he was knocked out by Chad Mendes in his last match on Aug. 31, Guida is a crafty veteran that has beaten some of the best fighters in the sport, such as Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz and Hatsu Hioki. Guida is one of the best well-conditioned athletes in MMA, but is also a terrific wrestler as well. He does a great job of wearing out his opponents, and usually proves to be too much to handle in the final rounds. His opponent, Tatsuya Kawajiri, is a versatile fighter who has shown the ability to win a match in many different ways. Kawajiri enters this bout on a six-fight winning streak, including a victory against Sean Soriano in Singapore on Jan. 4. He was able to lock in a rear-naked choke with 50 seconds remaining in the second round. While he has gone up against some terrific fighters in his career, Kawajri is still looking for a career defining victory.

"The Crusher" Kawajiri has 33 victories in his career, and shown the ability to win a match in many different ways with the breakdown of wins being 12 knockouts, 10 submissions and 11 decisions. The fighters are pretty even when it comes to landing punches with Kawajiri tallying 2.28 significant strikes per minute, while Guida is close behind at 2.08. However, the 35-year-old Kawajiri is much more accurate when throwing those punches (46% landed) compared to Guida (30%). But the Japanese-born fighter's ability to compete on the ground will play a big role in this match, as Kawajiri has a slight edge in takedown average (3.86 to 3.66), but a huge advantage in takedown accuracy (56% to 39%). While Kawajari is a great wrestler, he may want to keep this fight on his feet, because Guida is very difficult to beat on the ground.

Of his 30 career victories, "The Carpenter" Guida has won 13 by way of submission. He has also won 11 by decision with another six victories coming by knockout. The 32-year-old reeled off four straight wins starting in 2010, but has struggled in the octagon recently, going 1-3 in his past four matches. However, his opponents in these bouts have been terrific, as he fell to Benson Henderson in a unanimous decision, Gray Maynard in a split decision, and the aforementioned Chad Mendes. Guida, who hails from Round Lake, Illinois and fights out of Albuquerque should have the crowd in his favor. His 5-foot-7, 145-pound frame is identical to that of his Friday opponent, and Guida does a great job of avoiding the devastating punch, defending 66% of his opponent’s significant strikes (57% for Kawajiri). He will have to fight his style to get the win, because Kawajiri is too good with his strikes for Guida to get the victory on his feet.

UFC Fight Night 39 - Other Bouts

Middleweight Bout:
Chris Camozzi -155
Andrew Craig +125

Featherweight Bout:
Jim Alers -270
Alan Omer +212

Middleweight Bout:
Thales Leites -425
Trevor Smith +315

Bantamweight Bout:
Rani Yahya -200
Johnny Bedford +165

Heavyweight Bout:
Jared Rosholt -235
Daniel Omielanczuk +190

Welterweight Bout:
Ryan LaFlare -370
John Howard +285

Lightweight Bout:
Beneil Dariush -240
Ramsey Nijem +195

  
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