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Capital fight fans welcome UFC return

Abu Dhabi: For the second time in four years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is coming back to Abu Dhabi on Friday night – and fight fans in the capital are thrilled at the prospect.

UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson will take place from Yas Island’s du arena from 7.50pm, with a total of eight fights on the card.

The main event is a five-round heavyweight bout between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson.

One MMA fan in Abu Dhabi, Nasseem Ghaithm said: “It’s good that the UFC is coming back, and they’ve put an exciting card for the fans.”

Nasseem is also particularly looking forward to watching heavyweight fighter Nogueira in action, saying: “It’s good that Noguiera is coming to Abu Dhabi; he has a huge following here because of his legendary status, and his background in jiu-jitsu, which is very big in Abu Dhabi.”

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans around the world are well acquainted with the ability of Nogueira, a veteran and legend of the sport, following a career spanning more than 15 years.

Nogueira is well known as being one of the best submission artists in mixed martial arts, as well as one of the best technical practitioners in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Opposite Nogueira will be Roy Nelson, a veteran heavyweight of the UFC, with a total of 11 fights under his belt. Nelson, like Nogueira, is well versed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but what he is better known for is his heavy hands, with all six of his UFC victories coming by knockout.

The co-main event will feature a featherweight bout between Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Guida is another veteran of the UFC, having been a part of the company for almost 17 years, with a total of 18 fights under his belt.

Guida is known for his exciting and fast-paced, forward-moving style of fighting.

Guida’s opponent, Tatsuya Kawajiri, made his UFC debut earlier this year, with a second-round submission victory over Sean Soriano. Kawajiri made his name primarily in the lightweight division before dropping down to featherweight in 2011, and since then he has had a perfect win record as a featherweight.

Also on the card will be a familiar face to Abu Dhabi mixed martial arts fans, Rani Yahya, the 2007 ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Championship. Rani is set to take on Johnny Bedford in a bantamweight clash, with both fighters looking to get back into the win column after losing their last fights.

Rani will be one of three fighters on the card of Arab origin, alongside Alan Omer, and Ramsey Nijm who opens up the main card. Abu Dhabi-based UFC fan Joseph Hamra is proud of this fact, commenting: “We are proud to have them on there as any Arab representation means a lot to us.”

crowds in Abu Dhabi were on the edge of their seats at the official fighter weigh-in on Abu Dhabi Corniche on Thursday.

The tension continued on-stage as opponents faced off against each other one final time before they meet in the Octagon. Crowds were also treated to special appearances from UFC guest fighters Alexander Gustafsson, Urijah Faber, Stefan Struve and Luke Barnatt, who were on hand to answer questions from fans ahead of the big night.

Tickets are selling fast from Virgin Megastores and at starting from AED 295.

They will be available from the du Arena box office on the night.

-The writer is an intern at Gulf News


Main card: (10pm)

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira VS Roy Nelson (Heavyweight)

Clay Guida VS Tatsuya Kawajiri (Featherweight)

John Howard VS Ryan LaFlare (Welterweight)

Ramsey Nijem VS Beneil Dariush (Lightweight)

Undercard: (7.50pm)

Jared Rosholt VS Daniel Omielanczuk (Heavyweight)

Rani Yahya VS Johnny Bedford (Bantamweight)

Thales Leites VS Trevor Smith (Middleweight)

Alan Omer VS Jim Alers (Featherweight)