Two former castmates of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 finally faced each other last night (Dec. 15, 2012) as TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson battled former NFL lineman Matt Mitrione in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nelson had previously been slated to take on rival TUF 16 coach Shane Carwin, but a knee injury put those plans on hold. Mitrione was eager to step up and try to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity presented to him, actually asking for the Nelson fight.
While the former "Meathead" got off to a pretty good start, it was Nelson who finished it in yet another knockout. So how did he stop Mitrione for the first time in his MMA career?
Early on, "Big Country" was coming up way short with his punches, stepping forward with overhand rights and lefts against Mitrione and missing by a country mile. The bearded brawler had to deal with Mitrione's length and kicks from range and after the initial striking didn't pan out for him, Nelson closed the distance with a clinch attempt against the fence, working for trip takedowns to no avail.
After creating separation, both heavy hitters trades punches, but Nelson was still having some trouble landing the overhand right. Mitrione had done his homework and was defending against the attack well, so this was when the adjustment was made.
Nelson found a home for a counter left hand but what really finished the fight was a vicious uppercut thrown right when Mitrione was defenseless throwing a strike of his own. After some serious follow-up blows on the ground, it was all over but the celebratory belly rub.
For Matt Mitrione, he came into this fight very well prepared despite the short notice. He was finding success with his kicks throughout the fight, he fended off the takedown attempts and was staying a distance to avoid Nelson's overhand right. He did a very good job of keeping his left hand high to avoid Nelson's trademark attack, but when both men started trading in the pocket, it was only a matter of time until Nelson's power and durability took over. His biggest mistake was not remaining at a distance. The second he let Nelson get inside with an uppercut, he was toast.
Despite two straight losses, Mitrione is still a solid heavyweight with some good talent. It would be wise to drop him further down the roster to continue his development for a while. Fights against Dave Herman, Shawn Jordan or Shane del Rosario would all make sense.
For Roy Nelson, he did a great job adjusting to Mitrione's gameplan. Striking at a distance not working? Clinch. Cling not working? Back off and force an exchange in the pocket. Overhand right not working? Mix up your attack. Nelson had a tendency to rely way too much on his overhand right in the past, but he made a great adjustment here, throwing a lead left hook and then that beautiful counter uppercut which set up the finish of the fight. The uppercut was thrown with absolutely perfect timing just as Mitrione was throwing a left hand of his own and it connected flush. Nelson's killer instinct was tremendous as he didn't even think twice about letting his former TUF 10 castmate off the hook.
Next up for Nelson hopefully will be the TUF 16 coach's showdown against Shane Carwin as long as "The Engineer" is not sidelined for too long with the knee injury. If that doesn't pan out, it would be really fun to see him fight Todd Duffy should the former top prospect be victorious in two weeks. Another salivating option would be a fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira which is something Nelson has been asking for for years.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Mitrione provide a suitable challenge for Nelson in Carwin's absence? What did you make of the adjustments Nelson made in his striking during the fight?