Roy Nelson. First round. Right hand.
For years, those three components have walked hand-in-hand in the fight game, and they did so again Friday, as Nelson knocked out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the first round of their heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi.
Nelson (20-9) dropped Nogueira three times in the fight, each time with the right hand. The final shot, an overhand right to the chin, came in walk-off fashion. Nelson raised his arms and turned away before Nogueira hit the floor at 3:37.
"My goal was to get a takedown per round, go five rounds and push the pace," Nelson said. "It just happened that my right hand landed first."
That has been the case throughout Nelson's career, especially in the UFC. He is now 7-5 in the Octagon, and six of those wins have come via first-round knockout.
An early right uppercut hurt Nogueira (34-9-1) in the center of the cage and he was dropped moments later by a right hand over the top. Nelson didn't swarm on the knockdown, however, and Nogueira got back to his feet and appeared to recover.
Nelson hurt him again one minute later with a well-measured looping right. Again, Nogueira got back to his feet, but he was badly off-balance. Nelson put him away shortly after with a step-in right hand haymaker.
The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Nelson, but that didn't prevent him from mentioning a title shot after the fight.
"I always want to fight for the belt," Nelson said. "Let me just start right there. I'll work my way backwards."
Nogueira, 37, has now been stopped in each of his last five losses. It was his first appearance since a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum in June. It's the first time the former Pride champion has lost back-to-back fights in his career.
"He's a legend," Nelson said. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be fighting in MMA."
Guida cruises past Kawajiri
Guida (31-14) fought off numerous submission attempts and dominated Kawajiri in scrambles to earn a shutout unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 30-27.
"Tatsuya is a great grappler and had me in a couple deep submission attempts," Guida said. "It was an honor to fight him and have a name like that under my belt."
The featherweight bout got off to an electric start as Guida dropped Kawajiri with a right hand 30 seconds in. The Japanese veteran recovered quickly, but had to deal with Guida wrestling for a takedown near the fence.
Kawajiri (33-8-2) repeatedly attacked Guida's right arm in a kimura attempt as the two jockeyed for position, but never appeared close to locking one in. He caught Guida in an armbar from the bottom later in the round, but couldn't finish.
Guida continued to outmaneuver Kawajiri in Round 2, although he was never able to keep him on his back for an extended amount of time. Guida landed five takedowns overall in the fight compared to one for Kawajiri.
Kawajiri posed one late threat, putting Guida in a guillotine choke as the former collegiate wrestler lifted him into the air for a slam. The choke was tight enough that it forced Guida to abandon the slam and pull away Kawajiri's hold.
"At 145 pounds I would love to take on Conor McGregor and show him the ground game," Guida said. "But I'm a lightweight at heart and could see myself against someone like Josh Thomson, who I've battled before. He has done a lot at 155 pounds since coming back to the UFC, so that would be definitely worth moving up for."
The loss snapped a six-fight win streak for Kawajiri, who hadn't lost since April 2011, to current UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez.
"Clay is a great opponent and fought hard tonight," Kawajiri said.
Guida rebounded from a TKO loss to Chad Mendes in August, the first knockout loss of his career.
LaFlare stays hot with decision over Howard
An accidental strike to the groin nearly ruined what was yet another impressive performance by undefeated welterweight Ryan LaFlare.
LaFlare (11-0) earned a unanimous-decision win in a hard-fought bout against John Howard.
The fight nearly ended in the second round though, when Howard went down in visible pain due to a low blow. He remained seated during most of the five-minute recovery time and was still grimacing when the bout restarted.
"I'm not happy with the way the knee went down," LaFlare said. "I feel very badly about that. I am happy to get the win though. I didn't want to go the ground unless I had to but my legs started to feel very tired as the fight progressed. Now I can't wait to get back to New York and see my family. I don't care who the UFC gives me next, as long as I get to keep up my competition and move up the ranks."
LaFlare used his wrestling pedigree to dictate much of the fight. He scored multiple takedowns in each round, including a dominant third.
Howard (22-9) managed to work back to his feet on most occasions, but the effort of doing so combined with the low blow appeared to wear him out late. He scored his best offense in the second round, wobbling LaFlare at one point with an uppercut.
LaFlare improved to 4-0 in the UFC. All four wins have come via decision. Howard saw a four-fight win streak snapped.
Nijem scores upset of Dariush
Nijem (9-4) scored an upset TKO finish over the previously unbeaten Dariush (7-1) in the first round of their lightweight contest.
A well-placed left hook by Nijem dropped Dariush midway through the round. A jiu-jitsu black belt, Dariush attempted to tie Nijem up from the bottom but never fully recovered. The finish came at the 4:20 mark via strikes.
"He took a ton of damage and kept fighting," Nijem said. "I have a lot of respect for him. I'm here to fight. I'm here to bring a title to the Middle East."
Nijem, whose father was born in Palestine, connected with the left as Dariush threw a flying knee. He nearly locked in a guillotine choke during an ensuing scramble, and then landed a hard right hand after standing over Dariush's guard.
Referee Neil Hall called the bout after a series of unanswered hammerfists by Nijem.
Nijem improved to 2-0 on the year already, after going 0-2 in 2013. He outpointed Justin Edwards via unanimous decision in January. Dariush dropped to 1-1 in the UFC.