Mauricio "Shogun" Rua defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in 2005 on his way to winning a Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Ten years later, Rua 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, Rua completed a clean sweep of the trilogy.
For Nogueira, 44, the split decision defeat in the United Arab Emirates was a final disappointment, as he indicated beforehand it would be the last fight of a professional career that began in 2001.
Asked after the fight, Nogueira addressed the thought that this could be the end.
"I think so. I know I can fight very well," he said, "but I think it's time for the new generation to come."
But not Rua.
Saturday's bout started out much like the first two meetings -- except in slow motion. Nogueira, who came in having lost four of his previous six fights, circled with the 38-year-old Rua and measured him for left hands. Nogueira 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, but he 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.
Rua 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 fights.