Monday, August 9, 2010


Roy “Big Country” Nelson” is not your average MMA fighter. He is an extraordinarily fat heavyweight that does not look the least bit athletic, yet he comes always fully prepared to fight, has a chin that can take a ton of punishment, has knock out power in both hands, can go three full rounds without seeming to get tired, has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has years and years of experience in the sport. He was a former champion in a different organization and, after winning the tenth seasonof The Ultimate Fighter, is now steadily climbing the ranks of the UFC heavyweight division.

I previously wrote that Big Country seemed slimmer in his fight against Stefan Struve than he did in The Ultimate Fighter, and I believed that I would see similar progress in his preparation against Dos Santos. This was not the case. Though Nelson thoroughly prepared for this matchup, his belly did not make it obvious.

Junior “Ciganto” Dos Santos, on the other hand, is a young man in the sport of MMA, but has quickly shot up the ranks of the UFC heavyweight ladder, defeating all of his opponents in a very particular decisive manner: namely, a fierce knockout. If he does the same against Roy “Big Country” Nelson, then he will get a title shot against the winner of the Lesnar – Velasquez fight at UFC 121 in October.

The fight proved rather interesting in that a lot of it was highly unpredictable:

  1. Both fighters, who have knockout power in either hand, clearly landed clean shots to his opponent several times throughout the fight, yet could not finish.
  2. Roy Nelson lasted the entire three rounds without seeming to get tired.
  3. Junior Dos Santos seemed to slow down from the beginning of the second round onward. Was he simply pacing himself or did he gas himself out trying to knock out Nelson in the first?
  4. Roy Nelson kept up a defensive position for much of the second and third rounds, but kept moving forward, absorbing a ton of heavy shots from his opponent. He never appeared to slow down, and never gave up when he was hurt.

The fight lasted three rounds and, while the first was a back and forth stand up war all throughout, both fighters appeared to have changed their strategies and went more defensive in the second and third. Nelson kept his hands up the entire time and moved forward bit by bit, while Dos Santos, still keeping the pressure on Nelson with plenty of heavy hands and combinations, appeared to have slowed down in order to pace himself so as not to run out of gas. Nelson countered every chance he got, and Dos Santos continued to rain blows on his opponent, but neither fighter could finish.

Dos Santos got the unanimous decision victory, but the spotlight was clearly on Roy Nelson. He absorbed for three whole rounds what seemed like a hundred shots from the knockout machine known as Ciganto, something none of Dos Santos’ opponents were capable of withstanding, including the likes of Mirko Cro Cop and Gabriel Gonzaga.

Dos Santos gets the title shot and it will be very exciting indeed to see him fight either Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez early next year for the title. One criticism about him from UFC color commentator Joe Rogan was that Dos Santos might have been able to finish Nelson if he mixed up his striking more. He seemed to get more and more one-dimensional as the fight went on. Perhaps it was a sign of fatigue, but it still highlights his relative lack of inexperience in MMA. He has more than enough time to fill in the gaps in his game, though, and I’m sure that he’ll come more than fully prepared the next time around as he always does.

It’s a shame about Roy Nelson, though. As Rogan also comments, Nelson could be a much more effective fighter if he took his diet and training to another level and lose all the flab. If he trimmed down, lost at least (maybe) thirty pounds, and packed on some more muscle, all those credentials he already has in the sport would become even stronger, and he would become much more of a threat in the heavyweight division than he already is. He could have, perhaps, even easily defeated Dos Santos if he came in like that for this fight. It’s a wasted opportunity in my book. Hopefully he’ll learn from this and finally decide to become trimmer and fitter to up his fight game in the future. He’s still an extraordinarily talented and experienced fighter. That belly of his, though he knows how to fully take advantage of it, is much more of a hindrance than a help in the long run. 

Check out the rest of my UFC 117 reviews and drop on over the official UFC website for more amazing photos of the event!

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Hello, I'm Noel Blanco and I write Fitness Philippines. I have been involved in physical fitness for more than 10 years now and am currently taking up graduate studies on Exercise and Sports Science at the University of the Philippines. You can contact me at
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