John Heinis: Good to see Roy Nelson finally taking his conditioning seriously; there is no reason to believe that he won't look like the best version of "Big Country" in this fight.
On the other hand, Cro Cop is clearly an aging legend whose UFC career has been a train wreck.
After easily knocking out Eddie Sanchez at UFC 67, Cro Cop got a rude awakening at UFC 70 when he got knocked out by a Gabriel Gonzaga head kick. He then lost the aforementioned decision to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75.
After three "keep busy" fights with DREAM, Cro Cop came back to the premiere MMA organization with a win over Mostpha Al-turk (don't pretend you know who that is). The Croatian kickboxer was then thoroughly picked apart by current No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos.
It looked like Cro Cop may bounce back with a couple wins over Anthony Perosh and Pat Berry; however, he never really got his second win, though, as he then suffered consecutive knockout losses to Frank Mir and Brendan Schaub.
Long story short, Cro Cop's 4-5 record in the UFC had folks more or less praying for his retirement after a loss in March.
Not that Roy Nelson's been a stud recently, dropping his past two fights to Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, looking absolutely terrible in his most recent performance at UFC 137.
Still, I think Nelson just has more gas left in the tank here, and the fact that Cro Cop's jaw is made of glass now doesn't hurt either.
Roy Nelson via 3rd round TKO (punches)
Dwight Wakabayashi: Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is a fading legend in the vain of Wanderlei Silva, Matt Hughes and even Rich Franklin, and it is hard to predict whether there is really anything left in the tank for the once well-oiled Mirko.
He is 27-9 in his career and has a career highlight reel matched by few around him, but he is coming off of two bad losses, to Brendan Schaub and the other to Frank Mir. His striking is a shell of what it once was, but it is always his only chance. Problem is, you have to be able to take a punch to throw one, and Cro Cop is more and more prone to fall.
Roy "Big Country" Nelson has had to make some major changes in his career and training coming off his losses to Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir. Nelson has had to adjust for cardio's sake, to prove to his boss that he is serious about getting big money fights in his career.
He is 16-5 and is no doubt a talented all-around fighter, and he will look to knock Cro Cop down before getting top position for the finish. He should be able to rock Cro Cop from the top leading to a submission or even a TKO.
Prediction: Nelson will look to stomp the legend and show that his performance against Frank Mir was a fluke and he really is a top 10 heavyweight in the UFC. He will toss and punch Mirko around in this one, leading to a ground finish by TKO.
Roy Nelson via 2nd Round TKO
Jeffrey McKinney: In a battle between two big heavyweights, Roy “Big Country” Nelson will meet Mirko Cro Cop.
Both men are coming into the bout with two straight losses.
Although a loss is a loss, Cro Cop comes off looking like the worst of the two fighters.
His last two losses have come by KO.
Although many fans would like to see him win one more fight before he hangs it up, Nelson has a tough chin, heavy hands and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Although the cards are stacked against Cro Cop, expect him to throw leg kicks and try to finish the fight standing much like he’s done in Pride FC.
Nelson also won’t be a guy to pull any punches, as he’s willing to stand with anybody.
It could be a fight that’s an absolute war and possibly fight of the night.
Although it would be nice to see Cro Cop win one more bout, I believe Nelson will put him out.
Roy Nelson by KO
Jordy McElroy: This is a make or break fight for legendary heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
Coming off back to back devastating knockout losses, Cro Cop is in danger of getting his UFC walking papers and riding off into the sunset for good.
Cro Cop’s UFC tenure has been a big disappointment since his arrival. He desperately hopes to return to the Mirko of old who tore through the heavyweight ranks in Pride.
Unfortunately, he faces a tremendously game opponent in Roy “Big Country” Nelson, who is also coming off consecutive losses.
In a way, this is a loser leaves town bout.
As a hardcore fan of the sport, you want to give Cro Cop the benefit of the doubt. Fans continuously cling on to the past with memorable highlight reels and interviews. Once upon a time, Cro Cop was the most feared striker on the planet, but the past is the past.
Mentally and physically, Cro Cop isn’t the same fighter he used to be. The greats all take a tumble at some point, and for Cro Cop, his time has finally come.
Neslon won’t finish the Croatian, but he’ll stay busy with his standup and nab a couple of takedowns to ride out a unanimous decision.
Roy Nelson by unanimous decsion
Dale De Souza: Let’s face it, both guys need a “W” in order to salvage their runs in the UFC.
“Big Country” Roy Nelson gets a free pass from me, because although he obviously got tooled and schooled by Frank Mir, he showed his “iron belly” against Junior Dos Santos when he took shots from “Cigano” that would have put out any other Heavyweight (besides Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez).
But Mirko Cro Cop is a slightly different case.
Mirko looked great against Pat Barry and showed that although a title run is pushing it, he can still hang with some of the best at 265.
Of course, Frank Mir put him out in round 3, as did Brendan Schaub, and so there may be a question of whether Mirko really does have more left in the tank than we’d like to believe.
After all, many questioned Mir and Schaub simply because their knockouts came two rounds later than they were supposed to, but many also anticipate that Nelson has something riding on this fight that Mir and Schaub didn’t.
Nelson could be cut if he loses on Saturday; Mir and Schaub weren’t risking their jobs.
I for one hate to see Mirko call it a career, especially considering that his career—despite his rollercoaster of a UFC run—is among one of the best Heavyweight careers ever in the sport, but when you have to go, you have to go.
Nelson will have the honor of facing Cro Cop on Saturday, and I for one would expect him to make the best of the situation.
Roy Nelson by late first round KO