Roy Nelson vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira set for UFC Abu Dhabi show

Unless Roy Nelson snags that Nevada athletic commission job he’s looking for, the UFC has its first fight set for an expected April 11 date in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi just got itself a killer heavyweight clash.

Jeff Bottari,Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images


After a four-year hiatus, the octagon will return to Abu Dhabi in April when the UFC brings an event to the United Arab Emirates capital city.

Now the show has its first matchup, as UFC president Dana White confirmed on Thursday that heavyweights Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will square off in the bout expected to headline the show.

White said the event would take place in April but did not have a specific date. A UFC official later told FOX Sports it was tentatively scheduled for April 11.

Nogueira (34-8-1, 1 no contest) will be competing for the first time since last June, when he lost to Fabricio Werdum via armba submission.

Nelson is coming off two consecutive losses, dropping decisions to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. He’s now 19-9.

The matchup comes on the heels of Nelson’s announcement that he had applied for the open executive director position at the Nevada athletic commission. White hasn’t been shy about criticizing Nelson’s ambition to replace Keith Kizer, and poked fun at him again on Thursday shortly after confirming the fight, clarifying that Nelson’s bout would take place, ”If he doesn’t get that commission job. If he gets that, we’ll need new plans if that happens.”

Abu Dhabi is the home of Flash Entertainment, a subsidiary of the government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi which owns a 10 percent stake in UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC. The promotion last visited there in April 2010, when Anderson Silva beat Demian Maia in a fight that became infamous for Silva’s curious performance, which saw him dominate despite a seeming disinterest in the proceedings.

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