With consecutive losses to Frank Mir and Junior dos Santos, as well as public criticism from the UFC brass regarding his physique, 35-year old Roy Nelson’s back is against the wall when it comes to his bout this weekend against PRIDE legend Mirko Filipovic. The set of circumstances isn’t lost on the Buddha-bellied brawler who recently acknowledged exactly how important it is he exits UFC 137 with his hand raised.
“In this fight, I’m coming off two losses,” Nelson began in an interview with the UFC’s website while making it clear thoughts of a run at the championship would be premature. “The first fight I lost I was fighting for a shot at the world title and the second fight I was fighting against a guy who has already had the title twice. For me, losing to those guys and now coming out here, it’s basically that I need to get back into the win column. I don’t care if it is the ugliest fight in the world, I just need to get the W. Once you get the W in the win column then you can start making your way back to the title. But first you need to get that W because you can’t climb up the ladder while you’re losing.”
Such statements might cause some fans to believe the 15-6 Nelson, who has lost four of his last six fights and has a pedestrian 2-2 mark inside the Octagon, will earn his victory over “Cro Cop” by putting the crowd to sleep rather than the Croatian. However, according to “Big Country”, it simply means he plans to be cautious rather than rush into any situations.
“I think Mirko is going to stay on the outside and pick his shots with his left hand and look for his kicks,” Nelson explained of Filipovic’s likely strategy. “That’s what ‘Cro Cop’ is really good at. He sucks you into a lullaby and you put your guard down and then BAM that’s where the kick or punch is. For me, I have to be patient and look for my shots or look for the takedowns. I have to punch him in the face, but I have to be patient. Mirko is a patient man and he waits for that one mistake and he capitalizes on it.”
Further dismissing the notion the accomplished BJJer will opt to plod his way to a decision win, Nelson added, “It’s not a pure classic ‘grappler vs. striker’ (match-up) because this grappler is willing to bang with you,” a point supported by the fact he actually has more TKOs than submissions in his career – eight compared to five – and a pair of highlight reel knockouts in the UFC over Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve.
Nelson vs. Filipovic can be caught as part of the PPV portion of UFC 137 this Saturday night starting at 9:00 PM EST. Other featured fights include Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione and headlining action from decorated welterweights B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC