Both fighters came in on two fight losing streaks. Filipovic openly admitted beforehand that this was likely to be his final time suiting up in the checkered shorts, while Nelson simply needed a victory to remain gainfully employed by the UFC.
That's what he got, as the slimmer but still dangerous "Big Country" earned a technical knockout victory in the third round after overwhelming "Cro Cop" with punches.
It brought a sad end to a legendary career.
"I want to thank all you guys, especially UFC fans. UFC headquarters, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Joe Silva, I was treated like a king. ... All I can say is sorry I blew it."
Nelson came out swift and moving nimbly on his feet. His weight loss was evident and he made way with his quickness that clearly looked to throw off Filipovic.
Of course, none of that matters when he simply wanted a takedown, which he got with relative ease. He did nothing with it, though, and both guys started throwing bombs once they were back on their feet.
A few landed but not with the force necessary end it.
The second round opened with a huge flurry from "Cro Cop," who smelled blood when he landed a big shot and absolutely swarmed "Big Country." But the big man ate every shot while covering up and just kept pushing forward, no different than he did against Junior dos Santos last year.
The problem with exploding is if a finish fails, fatigue quickly sets in.
That's what happened to the Croatian, who gave up a late takedown and suffocated under the still hefty frame of his heavyset opponent. Nelson obtained a mounted crucifix with 40 seconds to go but "Cro Cop" managed to make it to the third and final frame.
Nelson opened the final frame with a comical kick that did no damage but set the tone for his aggressive pace. The big man took Filipovic's back and pounded away until the referee called a stop to it.
Truth be told, it looked like "Cro Cop" simply gave up.
As it begins, so it ends.