UFC 143 fight card: Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum prediction, preview and breakdown

Heavyweights Roy Nelson (L) and Fabricio Werdum (R) will co-headline the UFC 143 event later tonight from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Photo by Esther Lin via SBnation.com.

Nobody brings it quite like the heavyweights, whose combination of one-punch power and cumulative size make for highlight-reel endings more often than any other weight class.

Between Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum, who will square off in the UFC 143 co-main tonight (Feb. 4, 2012) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, the duo probably has more cumulative grappling mojo than most heavyweight bouts, with them having faced a who's-who of the best in the division.

Both have shown flashes of brilliance alongside underwhelming performances, which is what makes this a real wild card-type of bout. A breakout showing by either guy could bump them up a few notches in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight rankings.

Follow me after the jump for a complete breakdown of the UFC 143 fight between Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum:

The Breakdown

The style advantage definitely goes to Nelson, whose better takedowns, and battering-ram of a right hand, will make it much easier for him to dictate where the fight goes.

A two-time Abu Dhabi Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Werdum's submissions are fantastic, but his stand up is functional at best, and he'll be hard-pressed to get "Big Country" to the ground, outside of pulling guard. Nelson's conditioning is a much-discussed issue for him, but he remains the owner of one of the game's best chins, and a resolute determination when he's in the proper frame of mind.

Nelson's also got excellent submission defense and is deceptively athletic (he once told me he can dunk a basketball, despite his portly frame). He also has big-time power in his hands, and the mindset to throw them.

The Pick

Despite the fact that Mirko Filipovic is badly faded, Nelson still looked impressive in his stoppage of "Cro Cop," showing the kind of patience and confidence in his skills that defined him as the best fighter on The Ultimate Figher (TUF) 10.

When he's in the groove, he'll unleash powerful right hands and force exchanges, then utilize his solid tie-up and throwing ability to take foes down. Werdum will be hard-pressed to match Nelson in stand up or clinching ability, so he'll dispense with trying to match strikes and desperately try and get it to the mat where he can find a submission.

However, Nelson, an Abu Dhabi veteran himself, will be too smothering and strong to set much up, and he'll work strikes on the ground to soften Werdum for the finish, which will come in the third round via ground and pound in a big performance by Nelson.

Nelson via technical knockout

Be sure to join MMAmania.com this evening for LIVE, detailed UFC 143 results of all the "Diaz vs. Condit" pay-per-view (PPV) action. It will include blow-by-blow coverage of the Facebook video stream, FX "Prelims" bouts, and of course, the PPV broadcast. We'll start RIGHT HERE at around 7:00 p.m. ET and carry straight on through early Saturday morning.

See you later!

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst or Jason@jasonprobst.com

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