Nogueira loses decision to Rua in likely final fight

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua overpowered Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in 2005 on his way to winning a Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Ten years later, he defeated his fellow Brazilian again once both had made it to the UFC — and after Rua had reigned as light heavyweight champion. And on Saturday, in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi, Shogun completed a clean sweep of the trilogy.

For Nogueira, 44, the split-decision loss was a final disappointment, as he indicated beforehand that this would be the last fight of a professional career that started in 2001.

Asked afterward if this was indeed his final fight, Nogueira replied, “I think so. I know I can fight very well, but I think it’s time for the new generation to come. “

Nogueira ends his career having scored victories over some elite competition, including Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz and Kazushi Sakuraba. He had victories over Alistair Overeem.

This bout started out much like the first two meetings — except in slow motion.

Nogueira, who came in having lost four of his past six fights, circled with the 38-year-old Rua and measured him for left hands. He finally landed one midway through the first round, and Rua, showing some facial damage, went for a takedown and took the fight to the canvas.

Rua tried to repeat that in the second round but failed on two takedown attempts, and did get the fight back to the canvas late in Round 3. Along the way, he also punished Nogueira with calf kicks, softening up the lead leg. He did enough to earn 29-28 scores from two judges, while the third had the same score for Nogueira.

Rua, a former UFC light heavyweight champ, has lost only one of his past seven battles.