Despite his previous loss to Junior Dos Santos, Roy Nelson showed a lot of heart and a good chin. For those reasons, Nelson looked as if he could still compete will a true heavyweight contender.
Nelson will most likely be considered a gatekeeper for the foreseeable future unless he can prove his worth in his next fight. Here a five opponents Nelson could meet next.
Both making their UFC debut, Jon Olav Einemo and Dave Herman will meet at UFC 131 in June. Despite having accomplished nothing in the UFC yet, both fighters are highly regarded for their accomplishments prior to being signed by the organization.
The winner of this fight could very well fight an opponent at the caliber of Roy Nelson in their scond UFC fight. However, that could potentially be a lose-lose situation for Nelson. A loss against either of these fighters could lead to the release of "Big Country" and a win would do very little to move him forward.
At one point prior to his fight with Frank Mir, Roy Nelson had been scheduled to fight Shane Carwin. However, that fight fell through, and Carwin will now be fighting Junior Dos Santos at UFC 131.
If Carwin wins that fight, he will be fighting for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. However, a loss could finally make a date with Nelson a reality.
If that scenario played out, both fighters would have lost two in a row against elite competition and would be desperate for a win. The matchup would guarantee on fighter a huge victory that could have them right back in the mix as a contender.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is currently preparing for his fight with Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 in August. Whether Nogueira wins or loses that fight, he could become an interesting opponent for Nelson.
If Nogueira wins against Schaub, he would likely need one more notable win before he could be considered a serious contender again after such a long layoff, so Nelson would fit that role perfectly.
Meanwhile, a loss for Nogueira against Schaub would leave the legend without a win in more than two years. Nogueira and Nelson would both be in desperate need of a win, which would make the matchup between them even more enticing.
After recording an incredible knockout win over Stefan Struve at UFC 130, Travis Browne is ready to test himself at heavyweight. This could mean a fight with fellow UFC 130 competitor Roy Nelson.
If Nelson could halt the Browne hype train, he would prove himself as a true gatekeeper in the heavyweight division. However, a loss to Browne would make him dispensible.
Fighting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 134, Brendan Schaub would be the ideal opponent for Nelson if he wins his next fight.
A win over Nogueira would give Schaub five straight wins since losing to Nelson at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter.
Schaub has unquestionably grown as a fighter since that bout, which would make a rematch intriguing to see how much the gap between these two fighters has closed in what would be around two years since they first fought.
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