Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC Via Getty Images
Roy Nelson's professional MMA career began with five submission wins in his first six fights. Since then, he's been all about the knockouts, especially in his UFC career.
"Big Country" has won six of nine fights in the UFC, and all of those wins have come via knockout or technical knockout. Five of them have come in the first round. Obviously, Nelson is more interested in getting the knockout than winning by any other means.
But how good is his striking?
He landed 38 percent of his strikes in 11 analyzed fights (including one EliteXC fight and one IFL fight) while posting a striking defense of 50 percent. Neither statistic is phenomenal, but the striking accuracy is quite low.
However, a low striking accuracy has not stopped Nelson from finding success. In his past three fights, his accuracy has risen but still only just passed the 43 percent mark in terms of significant strikes. Yet he still managed to earn back-to-back-to-back knockout stoppages. Nelson's vicious power has more than made up for the low accuracy in his past few contests.
Furthermore, Nelson has been able to find a way to beat fighters with decent or even good striking defense.
In his six UFC wins, his opponents have had a striking defense of 49 percent or better. Here's the list:
- Brendan Schaub: 57 percent
- Stefan Struve: 49 percent
- Mirko Filipovic: 64 percent
- Dave Herman: 50 percent
- Matt Mitrione: 68 percent
- Cheick Kongo: 54 percent
Again, all six of those fights ended by way of knockout.
Meanwhile, Miocic boasts a striking defense of 57 percent with a striking accuracy of 46 percent. The 46 percent accuracy is the second lowest that Nelson has faced in his UFC career, with Schaub's 38 percent taking the bottom spot. Meanwhile, the 57 percent striking defense ties Schaub for the fifth best of an opponent.
But what about Miocic's opponents?
Unfortunately, we have only a four-fight sample size, featuring three fighters with sub-.500 records. Miocic has obviously had weaker competition than Nelson.
Still, he has one thing going for him: his high level of activity. He lands 4.76 strikes per minute compared to the 4.51 he absorbs. Nelson, however, lands just 2.41 strikes per minute compared to the 4.75 he absorbs.
Keeping busy against Nelson is not necessarily in one's best interest, however. Big Country often baits his opponents into brawls, and if Miocic can't utilize his 80-inch reach to keep the fight at a distance, his work rate will work against him.
And another thing working against the underdog is that in nine UFC fights, Nelson has never been knocked out. Just watch his fight against Junior dos Santos, and it's clear that Nelson, even at 37 years of age, is probably not going to get knocked out in a three-round fight.
We've seen glimpses of promise in Miocic's striking during his four-fight UFC career, but I'm hardly sold on his ability to last 15 minutes against the powerful Nelson in a slugfest.
And Nelson has managed to overcome a reach disadvantage before—he fell 11.5 inches short in the reach department against Struve. He's also the more powerful striker.
Miocic will look to stay busier on the feet, but Nelson will land the more significant shots.
Advantage: Roy Nelson