LAS VEGAS – A bout that was expected to bring some clarity to the light-heavyweight division did little more than bore fans as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira edged former champ Rashad Evans.
The fight, which lacked any significant moments, ultimately ended in a unanimous-decision victory for Nogueira.
The bout co-headlined Saturday’s UFC 156 event at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
Nogueira entered the bout after a 14-month layoff, and Evans after a 10-month layoff. It wasn’t exactly ring rust, but both vets often looked flat in the bout.
Neither fighter had an edge in the first round, which began with an extended feeling-out process. Nogueira eventually landed a couple nice rights and a stiff left that caught Evans flush, but Evans answered with a few solid punches of his own, including a right hook to the ear, before a brief takedown.
The second round had more action but proved just as evenly contested. Nogueira quickly escaped takedowns and had success with his jab and few quick straight punches. Evans avoided any power punches and checked body kicks before finally eating a combo, but he answered with a nice right and a few punches from close quarters before the round ended.
With the fight up for grabs, neither committed early in the final frame. Nogueira continued pawing a jab and landed a few, and Evans partially connected on some combos as he reset. After a brief timeout after taking a finger to the eye, Nogueira connected on a straight left. But the final two minutes of the round offered little more than jabs, Evans’ failed takedown attempt, and swings and misses as the crowd lobbed plenty of boos.
Neither fighter clearly took any round, so the scorecards proved to be a crapshoot. In the end, though, the judges sided with Nogueira via 29-28 scores.
While a victory over a former champ is always an accomplishment, and though it certainly beats a loss, Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is unlikely to get much of a boost from the performance, which marked his second straight win.
Evans (17-3-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC), meanwhile, suffers the first back-to-back losses of his career and faces a long road back to the title shot.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 156 results include:
- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Rashad Evans via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Antonio Silva def. Alistair Overeem via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 0:25
- Demian Maia def. Jon Fitch via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Joseph Benavidez def. Ian McCall via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Evan Dunham def. Gleison Tibau via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Tyron Woodley def. Jay Hieron via KO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:36
- Bobby Green def. Jacob Volkmann via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:35
- Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Yves Edwards via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Dustin Kimura def. Chico Camus via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 1:50
- Francisco Rivera def. Edwin Figueroa via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:20