The bout served as the main event of the "UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson" card at the du Arena.
Nelson (21-9) was in control from the start, working in frequent jabs and occasionally launching his right hand. One of those shots scored flush in the early stages of the fight and Nogueira (34-9-1) went tumbling to the floor, but Nelson didn't rush the finish and instead allowed his opponent to stand and re-engage.
The patience paid off as Nelson delivered a thunderous right a short time later that saw Nogueira fall stiff as he hit the mat. Nelson didn't bother to wait for referee Leon Roberts to step in, raising his hand in victory at the 3:30 mark of the first round.
"I was expecting a five-round battle but things ended a little early," Nelson said. "My game plan was to throw more lefts and mix in some takedowns and eventually try to win each round. I didn't think I was going to be the hometown favorite but Abu Dhabi really was behind me tonight."
In the night's co-feature, veteran featherweight Clay (The Carpenter) Guida outworked Japan's Tatsuya (Crusher) Kawajiri for a win via unanimous decision.
Guida (31-11) was relentless from the start, pressing the pace and looking to strike but often finding himself in a clinch with his opponent. Guida took advantage of those situations by locking the body and dumping his opponent to the canvas, even as Kawajiri (33-8-2) looked repeatedly to secure an armlock from the position.
The two went back and forth for the full 15 minutes. Kawajiri always looked dangerous, but Guida kept a high pace until the final bell and enjoyed too many dominant positions to be denied a victory.
Afterward, Guida called out Irish featherweight prospect Conor McGregor.
"After your injury, once you're healed up, you want to fight a real man, there ain't no gold at the end of that rainbow, man," Guida said in his post-fight interview. "Just a chest-hair sandwich from a mullet with a caveman at the end of it."
In a welterweight contest, Ryan LaFlare looked impressive in a unanimous-decision win over John (Doomsday) Howard, though the contest was marred by an accidental foul.
LaFlare (11-0) proved the better wrestler in the three-round matchup, repeatedly taking his opponent to the floor. But in the second round, LaFlare landed an inadvertent knee to the groin that sent Howard (22-9) to the canvas and threatened to end the fight.
Howard chose to fight on but was in clear pain for the remainder of the bout. After earning the decision win, LaFlare admitted he was disappointed in how the incident played out but was happy to get a win.
In the night's first main-card matchup, lightweight Ramsey Nijem (10-4) earned a scintillating victory over the previously undefeated Beneil Dariush (7-1).
Nijem, who entered the cage holding a Palestinian flag, scored with a clean left hook in the late stages of the first round, and Dariush never recovered. Nijem seized the opportunity and rushed forward with additional strikes, finally earning the TKO call at the 4:20 mark of the first round.
"I wanted this to be violent," Nijem said after the win. "I want everybody to be scared in my weight class."