Ultimate Fighting Championship Matt Mitrione has respect for the immovable object that is Roy Nelson's legendary chin going into their bout at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale this Saturday night (Dec. 15, 2012).
Fans of the sport all the way up to UFC President believe Nelson has one of, if not the best chin in all of mixed martial arts (MMA). It appears Mitrione agrees, as he told Inside MMA on AXS TV that he doesn't think Nelson can be knocked out.
Does that mean "Meathead" is going to try and outpoint "Big Country" en route to a five-round decision? Maybe, or maybe not. More than anything it means he recognizes what Nelson brings to the table and is not going to try and "reinvent the wheel" on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
"I think that I can out-athlete Roy, I think everybody knows there's no point to reinvent the wheel against Roy, he's not going to get knocked out, we know he has a phenomenal chin, he's stubborn as all hell, so he's too stubborn to get knocked out and he's too stubborn to stop walking forwards. So it really comes down to being an athlete, being intelligent about where I'm going to have my strikes and what strikes I choose to use."
In seven UFC bouts, Nelson has never been finished, an impressive feat considering his list of opponents that includes Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Cro-Cop and UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
It must be noted, though, that this will be Nelson's first five-round bout under the UFC banner. He has proven capable of taking tremendous shots over 15-minutes, but can he endure a 25-minute throttling?
With that said, just because Nelson hasn't been put away yet doesn't mean Mitrione can't be the first one to pull it off. We've seen time and time again that not all chins stand the test of time in MMA and no one is immune to being knocked out, it just takes one perfectly placed strike.
Mitrione has not stepped in the Octagon since an October 2011 loss to Cheick Kongo. Since then, the former professional football player has switched camps and is now with the Blackzilians in Florida training alongside fighters such as top heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem.
Mitrione feels his game has improved leaps and bounds since training with his new teams and says fans will see on Saturday night that he's learned his past lessons and is a much better fighter than before.
"I've learned all of that since I've been down here in March, I've had a lot of time to train, a lot of time to recover and make sure I use those at the right time to prove I've learned my striking lessons."
The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale goes down this Saturday night (Dec. 15, 2012) from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Along with the Nelson vs. Mitrione headliner, the welterweight final of TUF 16 between Mike Ricci and Colton Smith will take place on the card.