Nelson is coming off of back-to-back losses against Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, and he absolutely needs a win over Cro Cop not only to avoid gatekeeper status, but to keep his job for as long as possible.
Nelson gassed out early with Mir in their UFC 130 showing, and immediately, calls for him to drop to 205 pounds or to get rid of his gimmick beer belly were made.
Was Nelson taking this seriously? Is he a serious fighter?
Well, going into the Cro Cop fight, Nelson still has the trademark gut and mullet and even sports a fancy new hobo beard.
This is a huge fight for him to stay relevant after winning his first two UFC fights. A win over a fighter like Cro Cop gives Nelson a legitimate-name victory.
It also could help Nelson escape gatekeeper status in the heavyweight division.
It won't be an easy fight for Nelson, though. Cro Cop has some deadly striking and could very well break the hard chin of Nelson that even JDS couldn't crack.
Nelson is almost on his last legs in the UFC, and a loss tonight gives him that scary three-straight losses that could expel him from the UFC.
At Nelson's age of 35 years old, he doesn't have much time left to make a move for a title shot, even though a title shot seems light-years away for Nelson.
Cro Cop, though, is a good start for Nelson, who is trying to escape gatekeeper status and keep his job all in one fight.