Headlining the UFC Fight Pass prelims for UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil, on Saturday night, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira needed a win. In front of 45,000 home country fans, he got one.
Coming into the fight reeling on the heels of back-to-back losses, Nogueira, despite maintaining a Top 10 ranking in the UFC light heavyweight division, was desperate for a victory. But having lost two of his last three, so was his opponent, Patrick Cummins.
While Nogueira made no secret of wanting to utilize his superior boxing skills, Cummins entered the fight with the appropriate strategy. He was just unable to realize the fruits of that strategy before Nogueira.
Cummins immediately started chopping away at Nogueira’s lead leg with low kicks, and landed several in the opening minutes of the fight. But before he could mount enough damage to slow him down, Nogueira established the range for his punches. Once he did, he made quick work of the far less experienced fighter.
A little over three minutes into the opening round, Nogueira landed a straight left, following by a right hook that rocked Cummins, sending him wobbling backwards. Nogueira swarmed, landing another left hand that sent Cummins to his knees. Nogueira followed him to the ground and pummeled his with punches and hammerfists.
Cummins looked like he was out of the fight, a dazed look across his face, but the referee chose not to stop the fight.
Somehow, reacting on instinct, Cummins returned to his feet, only to have Nogueira force him to the cage, where he teed off on his defenseless opponent, landing three hard punches before the referee had finally seen enough and called a halt to the fight at the 4:52 mark.
It was a huge victory for the 39-year-old Brazilian fighter, a legend in the sport, who isn’t done writing the last chapter of his story.