Much to Dana White’s dismay, the upcoming bout between Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 in Winnipeg may just end up being another belly-rubbing victory for Nelson’s highlight reel. Coming off a three-win streak, Nelson is as hungry for a win as he is for another cheeseburger – a staple in his unconventional training diet. Weighing in at 263 pounds of tubby American beef, Big Country is known for his heavy right hand (winning him “knockout of the night” on four separate occasions), great grappling skills, world-class experience, and deceptively good cardio. Even UFC commentator Joe Rogan said that Nelson is a “big fat guy, but he’s in good shape.” Many said the same about the Russian MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko, whose size and stature never stopped him from arguably being the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
Although he only has one loss in his professional career, and has won both “fight-” and “knockout of the night”, Golden Gloves winner Miocic hasn’t really fought anyone of note in his professional MMA career. Coming off a loss to Stefan Struve via TKO in the second round, Miocic should be eager to prove that he can handle hanging with the big boys by going toe to toe with one of the biggest. With superior height and speed, Miocic plans to show that Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic isn’t the only Croatian fighter worth remembering. However, Big Country put CroCop down hard in UFC 137, and Miocic should think twice about wearing those unforgettable checkered fight-shorts if he doesn’t want Nelson to see red a second time.
As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, Big Country has experience competing at the Abu Dhabi Grappling Championships (ADCC), and was the heavyweight champion of the IFL. Going on with his career, Nelson won The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, and smashed former street fighter Kimbo Slice in the highest rated MMA show in U.S. history (with 6 million viewers). On top of having the edge in experience, Nelson can take a beating as well as dish one out. Out of 19 professional victories, Big Country has brought home the win six times by knockout, seven times by TKO and referee stoppage, and five times by submission. When considering that 18 out of 19 of Nelson’s wins have been decided without going to decision, it’s clear to see that he knows how to win undisputedly.
If Miocic wants to have a chance at winning this match, he’s going to have to engage Big Country very carefully. Miocic has a great single-leg takedown, Division I wrestling skills, and with his superior speed he will definitely be able to bring the fight to the ground if he so chooses. That being said, if Nelson somehow scrambles and ends up with his big belly on top, the fight will absolutely be over for Miocic, as Nelson can choose to submit him or smash him with his heavy hands.
I predict this UFC fight to go to Nelson by way of knockout before it even reaches the ground. Nelson has gone at it with world-class warriors such as Cheick Kongo, Fabricio Werdum, CroCop, Frank Mir, Junior dos Santos, Jeff Monson, and Andrei Arlovski. With this résumé, Nelson is more than prepared to strike Miocic down as he did to Struve, who is the only man to have beaten Miocic thus far.