UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson has gone through a rough patch in the Octagon lately, dropping two straight decisions to top competitors in Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. Prior to that, “Big Country” had reeled off three consecutive knockout victories over lesser competition in Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione, and Dave Herman.
The popular slugger will face off with Pride FC legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event of this Friday’s (April 11, 2014) UFC Fight Night 39 from the du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Nelson badly needs a win to right the ship. Fortunately for him, he has the chance to get just that in a fight that he’s been aiming at for quite some time. He described his thoughts to Fight Hub TV:
“My thing is I’ve been wanting to fight “Big Nog” since “Big Nog’s” actually been in the UFC, right after he got the belt and you know, beat Randy, I’ve been kind of like, fiending for it, you know, I’ll fight “Big Nog” because he’s a legend.”
Indeed Nogueira is a legend, but age and injuries have begun to catch up to the superstar. He’s been rather inconsistent in his UFC stint, alternating wins and losses in his eight bouts since defeating Tim Sylvia for the interim championship at UFC 81. Nogueira last bout was a submission loss to current No. 2-ranked challenger Fabricio Werdum at last June’s UFC on Fuel TV 10. While a loss to Werdum, who will fight Travis Browne for a shot at returning champion Cain Velasquez’ belt at UFC on FOX 11 on April 19, can’t be held against him too much, it’s clear that “Big Nog” is nearing the end of his illustrious run.
Meanwhile, Nelson also badly needs a win to stay relevant, making UFC Fight Night 39’s main event a pivotal one for the career trajectories of the fading fighters. Both are skilled ground technicians, but the edge in that area has to go to Nogueira. On the other hand, Nelson has preferred to lean on his thunderous right hand to do his dirty work, something that smarter fighters have picked up on and gameplanned for.
Can Nelson go to the well once more and knock out the notoriously iron-chinned “Big Nog”?