Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Well, that wasn't what anyone expected. Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira were placed in the co-main event of UFC 156 because Zuffa thought it would probably be a good fight. Well it wasn't. In fact, it was pretty horrible. Evans looked nothing like he usually does, throwing lethargic strikes and putting nothing behind his patented takedowns. Nogueira wasn't exactly awesome either, but he did enough with his jab and some kicks to take a unanimous decision. All three judges had it 29-28 for the Brazilian.
The pace was very measured early, with both men playing a version of pattycake to establish their range. Nogueira looked to establish his jab while Rashad was setting up a home run shot. He landed his big right after setting it up for over three minutes, but only staggered Nog a bit with it. He got a takedown near the end of the round, but Nogueira got up immediately.
The second round was pretty tepid as well. The two men couldn't really establish any rhythm or sustained striking, and just exchanged single shots throughout. Rashad was stopping Nogueira from firing his jab most of the time, but it still got through now and again. Evans went for a takedown once again and got Nog to his butt, but he got right back up. Evans landed a nice right hook with a minute to go, which was probably the best strike of the round. Evans closed with a high kick that Nogueira blocked.
Nogueira appeared to be the more active fighter over the first half of the last round, getting his jab to connect with more frequency. Evens poked Nogueira in the eye, but it didn't change the momentum much for Evans. Rashad finally showed some urgency late, but he he couldn't get a takedown or connect with anything appreciable.