UFC heavyweight fan favorite Roy “Big Country” Nelson got back into the win column in a big way at today’s (April 11, 2014) UFC Fight Night 39 from DU Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Knocking out legendary former Pride FC and UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the first round, Nelson erased the bad memories of his two straight losses to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. Speaking to MMA Junkie after UFC Fight Night 39 earlier today, Nelson said that he knew he had to finish “Big Nog.” He also noted that he was looking to grapple in the famous Abu Dhabi heat, but never got his chance:

“The thing with ‘Big Nog’ is you can’t just jump right on him. I tried to get a TKO, but he recovers. He actually knows where he’s at, even when he’s kind of out. The only way I knew was I either had to put him out by choking him or knock him out.

It was a little bit shorter than I thought it was going to be. Since we’re here in Abu Dhabi, I wanted to grapple a little bit more. I wanted to do a couple more takedowns – or actually do a takedown – but it didn’t last that long.”

Indeed it didn’t last long, as Nelson ended the fight at just over the three-and-a-half minute mark of the first round. While the previously No. 9-ranked Nelson should receive a decent boost up in the rankings after beating “Minotauro,” it’s obvious that he beat a shell of the former champion’s true self.

Regardless, “Big Country” is back on track, and regardless of his inability to best top-level competition that avoids circling into his massive right hand, he should get another chance at a top-ranked opponent. Fellow heavy-hitter Mark Hunt should be right in line for a potential slugfest with Nelson, but the rotund knockout artist had a different idea altogether:

“Dream opponent is always whoever has the belt, so that would be Cain Velasquez.”

The always-entertaining Nelson has his sights set on the belt apparently, but he’s going to have to wait quite awhile if he truly wants that shot. Injured champion Cain Velasquez is set to return from shoulder surgery later this year around November, and he is set to face off with the winner of UFC on FOX 11’s main event between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum.

In the meantime, “Big Country” is going to have to pick up some quality wins, and it’s hard to say he’s a legitimate title contender given his rather one-dimensional style. When that one dimension finds a home, however, the results are devastating. Who will be next up for the portly powerhouse?

Photo: Josh Holmberg for USA TODAY Sports