UFC 146 Results: Is Roy Nelson Finally Ready To Take out a Top Contender?
Fan favorite Roy Nelson added another knockout victory to his record Saturday night with a 51-second performance against Dave Herman. The victory put him back over .500 for his UFC career at 4-3.
Those three losses have all come at the hands of title contenders. Nelson has lost to both members of Saturday night's main event—Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, and Fabricio Werdum. With Nelson's impressive performances outside of those fights he is likely to get another stab at a contender, but will he be able to capture a victory and challenge for the title?
In each of those three fights Nelson was unable, or unwilling, to go to the mat and grapple, and in all three cases, he was out-struck by his opponents. To answer the question of if Roy Nelson is ready, one needs to qualify two things: Who are the top contenders and how does Nelson stack up?
The current top contenders in the division are easily narrowed down to Cain Velasquez, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Fabricio Werdum and the currently unlicensed Alistair Overeem.
We have already seen how Nelson competes against two of those five and all signs point to Velasquez getting the next title shot. Thus, let's focus on the other two men.
Overeem will be unlicensed through the end of the year, so it is unlikely that Nelson will challenge the former No. 1 contender. Stylistically, the matchup could play well in his favor. Despite a striking disparity between the two parties, Nelson may be able to land a hard shot and shut his lights out. If he can get it to the ground, the odds will tilt in his favor even more.
However, those who watched Overeem vs. Werdum in Strikeforce know that this is easier said than done.
Nelson's best chance may come against returning contender Shane Carwin. After extended time off while recuperating from back surgery, it remains to be seen how Carwin will perform inside the Octagon. This may be the greatest asset to Nelson reaching the upper echelon of the division.
Carwin, while heavy-handed, is not the technically gifted striker that dos Santos is nor is he the Muay Thai striker that mixes in a variety of kicks and knees. If Nelson can avoid a haymaker, he stands a good chance to be quicker and out-point Carwin. If Carwin utilizes his wrestling, he will be risking the vaunted submission attack of Nelson.
Defeating a returning Carwin may be Nelson's best shot at taking out a top contender this year.
Big Country has the tools to compete with most in the division, but so far his style and skills have been just a hair off of the cream of the crop.
Looking at the current landscape of the division, he may have to settle for another top-10 heavyweight outside of the title hunt like himself. And that is not a bad thing.
Is he ready to take out a top contender? Based on the past 12 months, no. But having several months and one more fight to sharpen his skills before taking another crack at the elite of the division may elevate the fan favorite to elite status.
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