The co-main event seemed like a mismatch coming in. And it played out to expectation.
Anthony Johnson scored a brutal first round TKO victory over Brazilian stalwart Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC on FOX 12 in San Jose. The southpaw "Lil' Nog" had a couple of brief exchanges with the 30-year old Johnson in the opening sequences, but took a huge right uppercut along the fence that signaled the beginning of the end. Johnson followed up with a couple more big, very precise uppercuts from a stance of full power to drop Nogueira for good.
The end came at :44 of the first round.
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"Hopefully I keep putting feat in everybody's hearts," Johnson said in the post-fight interview. "I have been down a pretty crazy road, the story of me is pretty out there. But I'm not afraid to admit my faults, and I just want everyone to know that I love them and thanks for accepting me back in San Jose."
Nogueira's last fight happened a year-and-a-half ago at UFC 156 when he fought -- and upset -- Johnson's Blackzilians' training partner, Rashad Evans. Johnson said that even though he was installed as huge favorite, he knew he needed to shut Nogueira down completely.
"This whole time time I was training for him I was like I've got to hurt this guy really bad or put him away, because he's a Nogueira and they don't quit, so I just made sure I finished the guy," he said. "I just wanted to destroy him, that was it."
Since his first stint in the UFC ended at UFC 142 when Johnson fought at 185 pounds and missed weight in his fight with Vitor Belfort, "Rumble" has gone undefeated. He won six fights outside of the UFC, including a heavyweight bout with Andrei Arlovski. Now that he has a home at 205 pounds, he has become an instant contender in his return to the UFC, having followed up his dominant performance against Phil Davis at UFC 172 with Saturday night's thrashing of Nogueira.
"It's a blessing, once again if it wasn't for Dana White and the Fertitta's cutting me when they cut me, I wouldn't be here right now," he said.
The loss dropped the 38-year old Noguiera to 21-6 overall.