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Uncaged: UFC delivers mediocre card to the United Arab Emirates

Resident octagon man Brian Kirk takes us through tonight’s card.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THERE IS NO disguising the purpose of this evening’s lacklustre UFC card is to promote the sport in a new region but in all honesty there isn’t a great deal to get excited about.

The heavyweight headliner between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy Nelson hardly sets the world alight although the co-main event between Clay Guida and Japanese standout Tatsuya Kawajiri does offer a little more promise of fireworks.

John Howard and Ryan LaFlare do battle in the welterweight division while Ramsey Nijem takes on Beneil Dariush to complete the main card on the first eight-fight event since UFC 72 back in 2007.

There is some interest on the undercard as former Cage Warriors champion Jim Alers makes is UFC debut looking to win his ninth fight in a row.

Cult hero takes on a legend

Roy Nelson’s rotund frame means he is not instantly recognisable as an elite Mixed Martial Artist but ask anyone who has been acquainted with his right hand to see if he deserves some respect or not.

After his winning stint on “The Ultimate Fighter”, Nelson earned the respect of both fans and fighters as he KOd the likes of Stefan Struve and Cheick Kongo to put him in the unlikely mix for a title shot.

However, back-to-back losses have robbed him of a chance at gold but he remains a durable and tough man to finish, even though he gasses so quickly, and he always has his trusty right hand to fall back on if in trouble.

His opponent Nogueira,might be in the winter of his career but still poses a huge threat on the ground as he is a legend in BJJ and grappling terms. He has one won and lost one via armbar since Frank Mir broke his arm at UFC 140 but looked in good condition at the weigh-ins.

“Big Nog’s” best chance of victory is to take it to the ground and drag the fight into the later rounds while exposing “Big Country’s” suspect gas tank. If he manages to stifle Nelson and avoid his right hand, he has every chance of picking up the win here.

Source: jack joy/YouTube

Can Clay still cut it?

It is a safe thing to say that Clay Guida always entertains. During his 18 UFC fights he has picked up the “Fight of the Year” award once, five “Fight of the Night” bonuses and three “Submission of the Night” cheques.

His rate of finishes however has started to decline as four of his last five fights have gone to decisions with the only stoppage being his KO at the hands of Chad Mendes last time out.

His opponent Tatsuya Kawajiri has fought for the Strikeforce lightweight belt before and is unbeaten in three years, having won his UFC debut back in January against Sean Soriano.

Guida is well known for his relentless pace. Couple this with his unpredictable movement on his feet and it still makes him an awkward customer for anyone facing him. Kawajiri will have trouble settling and may struggle to get a hold of Guida to take him down and issue his customary ground and pound.

This could make it a standoffish affair as Guida will look to stick and move before avoiding the clinch. If Kawajiri can’t take it to the mat he risks getting outpointed on the feet as Guida is the better striker. Guida’s superior and more accurate striking makes him favourite to win in this one.

Source: MMA Figth/YouTube

Best of the rest

Ryan LaFlare will be looking to improve on his 10-0 career record here as he takes on John Howard who has only lost one of his last nine fights including wins over Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada.

Both men have decent wrestling pedigree and possess some KO power but LaFlare’s aggression and relentless pace make him a slight favourite to keep up his unbeaten streak in this one.

Ramsey Nejim snapped a two-fight losing streak with a hard-fought decision victory over Justin Edwards last time out while his opponent Beneil Dariush opened his UFC account with a win over Charlie Brenneman.

Nejim would be advised to keep the fight standing as Dariush has a decent ju-jitsu reputation but he has been known to lose the head in some of his previous fights leaving him vulnerable to counters.

Dariush to eke out a submission late on.

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Brian Kirk

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