Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson: Early Breakdown

Will AnglandContributor IIIOctober 11, 2011

Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson: Early Breakdown

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    UFC 137 will feature two heavyweights on two-fight losing streaks, as Mirko Cro Cop will be facing Roy Nelson.  Mirko Cro Cop is on the tail end of his career, and many fans want to see him retire without taking any more injury.  He's been knocked out three times in the UFC.

    Roy Nelson entered the UFC with two straight knockout wins, but then quickly lost two lopsided unanimous decisions.  His OK skill set is largely hindered by his poor athleticism, and he has suffered against strong competition because of it.

    Both fighters need to win this fight, and both will leave it all in the cage.  Will Cro Cop win and vindicate himself of his past UFC losses, or will Roy Nelson end the storied career of Cro Cop in violent fashion?  Only one fighter can be victorious.

Technical Striking

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    Mirko Cro Cop is a very good technical striker.  He has very good accuracy, and throws a wide array of punches and kicks.  No one but Junior dos Santos has truly gotten the better of him on the feet.

    Roy Nelson's technique is simply inferior.  He relies almost exclusively on his overhand right hand, and when that fails he has little left.

    I give Cro Cop the edge.  Although he's been using his kicks less frequently as of late, Cro Cop is the more skilled and less predictable striker of the two.

    Advantage: Cro Cop


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    In his prime, Cro Cop boasted remarkable power.  His head kicks could knock anyone out cold, and his body kicks left nasty bruises.  His punching power was also formidable.  He famously beat Bob Sapp in a kickboxing bout by breaking his right orbital with a straight left.

    But his huge power days are long behind him.  While he has rocked some of his opponents in the Octagon, like Pat Barry, his only TKO win in the UFC is due to a doctor stoppage.

    Roy Nelson may not be a great striker, but it only takes one overhand right to finish a fight.  Stefan Struve and Brendan Schaub learned this the hard way.  Both of those fighters do have below-average chins, but so does Cro Cop, so he's still at risk.

    Advantage: Nelson


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    Both fighters boast strong submission defense.  Cro Cop was last submitted eight years ago by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Nelson has never been submitted.

    But Nelson quite clearly is the better submission fighter.  Of his 15 wins, five are by submission. He also has good control on the ground.  Nelson takes the edge on this one.

    Advantage: Nelson


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    Neither fighter has a strong wrestling background, but Cro Cop takes this one.  He showed good takedown defense in Pride and in the UFC.  In the UFC he has stopped 79 percent of attempted takedowns, and has landed 50 percent of his attempted takedowns.  Cro Cop has developed a decent wrestling game for a non-wrestler.

    Roy Nelson has not.

    Being a good wrestler requires being in shape, which is something Roy Nelson most certainly isn't. In the UFC he has only landed 11 percent of his attempted takedowns.  Frank Mir, who has never been a powerful wrestler, took him down on six of eight attempts.  The Croation has a clear advantage here.

    Advantage: Cro Cop


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    Neither of these two fighters are experts in the clinch game, but Cro Cop is the better of the two.  When Nelson goes for the clinch, it is typically for an (unsuccessful) takedown attempt.  When Cro Cop gets the clinch, he more often than not does solid damage, as he did against Barry and Schaub.  Cro Cop gets the edge on this one.

    Advantage: Cro Cop


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    Neither fighter is a cardio-freak, but Cro Cop easily takes this one.  Roy Nelson has looked very gassed in both of his UFC bouts that have gone the distance.  Cro Cop has looked better in his UFC fights that have reached the third round.

    Advantage: Cro Cop


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    This requires little explanation.  Cro Cop was knocked out four times in his career, three of which were in the UFC.  Not all of those knockouts came from elite strikers.

    Nelson has only been knocked out once, by former heavyweight champion Andrei Arvloski (who I hear hits pretty hard).  He also never got rocked by Frank Mir, and survived a huge beating from Junior dos Santos.  Nelson's chin may have gotten weaker from all the abuse, but he still easily has the better chin.

    Advantage: Nelson


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    Roy Nelson is a competitor, and will want to secure his job.  But he's also overwhelmingly arrogant. He probably thinks he'll walk through Cro Cop, and won't have the optimal mindset.  Remember, this is the guy who thought he'd out-strike Junior dos Santos.

    Since joining the UFC, the Croatian lost the killer instinct that made him a force in Pride.  He had uninspiring performances against Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, and has admitted himself that he has lacked the focus he needs in the Octagon.

    But Cro Cop wants to prove himself.  This is the last fight on his UFC contract, and he knows if he loses it will be the last fight of his career.  Whether he wants to fight a little longer so he can be a part of UFC Japan, or retire with a win, isn't known, but what is certain is that Cro Cop won't want to leave the sport with a loss.  He'll be as motivated as ever to win this fight.

    Advantage: Cro Cop

Winner: Cro Cop

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    Cro Cop takes this one.  Nelson's long-standing problem against strikers with good takedown defense will once again be exposed, and he will be beaten on the feet by the technically superior and more motivated fighter.

    But it won't just end like that.  Cro Cop will do what JDS and Mir before him could not: finish Nelson.

    Mirko Cro Cop by 3rd round TKO.