UFC Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Antonio “Rodrigo” Nogueira
Odds: ( -140 Nelson / +110 Nogueira )
Betting Pick: Nelson
Bet on this fight at Bovada
In the main event of UFC Fight Night 40, former PRIDE and UFC Heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will try to recapture some of the glory of his heyday as he squares off against long-time veteran Roy “Big Country” Nelson. Nogueira is one of the most accomplished and versatile Heavyweights in the history of the sport, but a long career of fighting through brutal punishment has finally taken its toll. Nogueira is a shell of what he once was, and while he still has amazing technique, he is going to have a really difficult time dealing with the physicality and versatility of Nelson.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira cemented himself as a legend in the sport with his world-class grappling, slick technical boxing, granite chin, and unstoppable fighting spirit. No one in the history of MMA has survived more vicious beatings than Nogueira only to snatch victory from his opponents. While he still has his grappling prowess and outstanding boxing technique, he has lost more than a step in his footwork and his chin isn’t the unbreakable rock it used to be. Against Nelson, he is going to have his hands full. He is probably the quicker and more technical boxer, but he utterly lacks punching power and Nelson has a spectacular chin. Similarly, he is probably the more technical grappler, but Nelson’s size and vastly superior wrestling render that fact meaningless. If this fight does go to the ground, it will be with the massive Nelson on top, and even a grappler as good as Nogueira will have a lot of trouble working underneath Nelson, who is a rather accomplished grappler in his own right.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson is, to me, one of the more underrated Heavyweights in the UFC. His giant, rotund physique and his ridiculous mullet make him seem like kind of a joke, but there are not many Heavyweights with his mixture of punching power, grappling prowess, durability, and deceptive speed. While he certainly doesn’t fit the physical mold of a modern UFC fighter, he has turned his bulk into a weapon, using it to maintain physical control from top position and wear his opponents out. On the feet, he isn’t as good as Noguiera at using the jab or at putting together quick combos, but he has infinitely more knockout potential. He just has to be careful not to let Nogueira sit back and outpoint him with jabs and technical boxing.
As sad as it makes me to type this, this seems like a mismatch at this point. Noguiera is a legend, but a shot one. Nelson may never reach the heights Nogueira did early in his career, but right now, Nelson is the physically and technically superior fighter. In a boxing match, he has the chin to eat Nog’s punches and set up his own howitzers. Noguiera doesn’t have the wrestling to take Nelson down, and Nelson is absurdly hard to submit when he is on top of you using his belly to pin you down and set up that dominant crucifix position. No matter where this fight plays out, I think Nelson has a sizable advantage, no pun intended. Ultimately I expect a boxing match. Noguiera will show glimmers of the technique that made him such a great fighter, but ultimately Nelson’s chin and punching power will prove too much for him. Nelson by T/KO.
Prediction: Roy “Big Country” Nelson by third round T/KO.