UFC 146 Fight Card: 5 Potential Opponents for Roy Nelson

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2012

UFC 146 Fight Card: 5 Potential Opponents for Roy Nelson

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    The saga that is the UFC 146 fight card continues to change.

    In the most recent development, Cain Velasquez will now take on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. The change comes after Frank Mir was selected to replace Alistair Overeem in a title fight against Junior dos Santos after Overeem tested for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone level.

    The shift provides an opponent for Velasquez, but now leaves highly-popular heavyweight Roy Nelson without a fight.

    The UFC will certainly be looking to keep the all-heavyweight card intact, so finding Roy Nelson an opponent for the May 26 card should be a high priority for the organization.

    Here are five possibilities to step up and fight Nelson at UFC 146.

Cheick Kongo

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    Cheick Kongo was a hot name in the heavyweight division heading into 2012.

    After back-to-back wins over Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione, the French heavyweight striker appeared to be heading toward relevancy. Unfortunately, he ran into the wrecking machine known as Mark Hunt.

    A first-round knockout at the hands of the Super Samoan brought Kongo's momentum to a halt.

    Roy Nelson is also seeking to reclaim lost momentum as he has now dropped three of his last four fights, including a lopsided decision loss to Fabricio Werdum in his last outing.

    Nelson would be the best grappler that Kongo has fought since a loss to Frank Mir in 2009. Kongo would be another hard-hitting heavyweight that could provide Nelson another opportunity to show off his iron chin.

Ben Rothwell

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    This may be too quick of turnaround, as Ben Rothwell just fought at UFC 145, where he turned in a knockout-of-the-night performance against Brendan Schaub.

    Rothwell and Roy Nelson have a past—the two fought against each other in their days in the now-defunct IFL in 2007. The two fought to a controversial split decision with Rothwell coming out on top.

    Five years later, both find themselves on the fringe of the top-10 in the UFC. A rematch could tell us a lot about where these two stand in the division.

Stipe Miocic

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    Stipe Miocic is one of the more promising up-and-comers in the UFC.

    Miocic has rode his dynamic striking and strong wrestling credentials to an 8-0 record and a 2-0 mark in the UFC.

    Is Miocic ready to take on a veteran like Nelson?

    A matchup with Miocic would definitely be a change from the fights Nelson has seen lately; since winning The Ultimate Fighter, Nelson has fought well-known names like Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum.

    Nelson's toughness and striking ability makes him a good gatekeeper to test where Miocic stands in the grand scheme of the heavyweight division.

Travis Browne

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    Another winner from UFC 145, Travis Browne would need a quick turnaround for the May 26 card, but he would be an interesting opponent for Roy Nelson.

    The undefeated Hawaiian wasted little time in choking out former Strikeforce heavyweight Chad Griggs in the first round.

    Nelson would provide a stern test for the 6'7" Browne, and he has experience in fighting taller opponents, as he knocked out 6'11" Stefan Struve in just under a minute.

    Brown vs. Nelson would provide fans with an entertaining matchup of two heavy-handed heavyweights, and the matchup could be another impressive win for Browne to put on his resume going forward.

Tim Sylvia

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    This one has little-to-no chance of happening, but its worth mentioning.

    Sylvia is a relic at this point, and when you see the prefix "Former UFC heavyweight champion" before his name, its hard not to chuckle. In recent months, Sylvia has become more and more desperate in his pleas to get another shot at UFC greatness.

    While White has been cold to the idea of bringing back Sylvia, if he is annoyed by Silvia's pleas, a matchup with Nelson could be just the solution.

    A loss to a gatekeeper like Nelson would show Sylvia that he simply isn't UFC material anymore, and if he is able to pull off the stunning upset, then the UFC gets a Mark Hunt situation.

    Hunt was infamously granted a shot in the UFC despite a subpar record, and he is now a fan favorite after pulling off a series of upsets against Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo.

    By matching up Nelson and Sylvia, the UFC either gets Nelson—a fan favorite—back in the win column, or they could create the next great comeback story with Sylvia re-emerging as a relevant heavyweight.

    Sounds like a win-win situation for the UFC.