Roy Nelson is probably the most extreme case of a hot and cold Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight. Blessed with considerable gifts and natural-born power in a mammoth right hand, his spotty mixed martial arts (MMA) performances make him an oddsmaker’s conundrum.
Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo -- his opponent later tonight (Sat., April 27, 2013) at UFC 159 from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. -- has functioned as a consistently reliable gatekeeper, forcing up-and-comers to prove their worth against his solid, but unspectacular, weapons. He doesn’t do any one thing great, but he comes in shape and is always looking to win.
This is a great chance for both guys to make a statement, especially Nelson, whose post-The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 showdown with Shane Carwin was scratched last year because "The Engineer" injured his knee. It was a great opportunity for "Big Country" to show he could get a win against one of the division’s most dangerous commodities; therefore, a victory this evening would put him up a notch or two in the ranks, especially if he can finish it in memorable fashion.
Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 159 main event between Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo below:
For his solid grappling credentials, the portly Nelson is very comfortable with letting a stand up fight develop, which is probably the best chance this match has of being competitive and exciting.
Kongo’s range and good kickboxing might pose some early problems for Nelson because "Big Country" tends to rely mainly on his punches and his big overhand right. If Kongo can move, hit a couple of well-timed sprawls, and keep clear of Nelson pinning him against the cage, he can score points and plant some seeds of frustration.
The weird thing about Nelson is that he’ll often keep striking even when it doesn’t necessarily serve his best interests. In this fight, he definitely needs to go to Plan B if Kongo can’t be outmatched on the feet.
Nelson has one of the best chins in the game and can take a helluva' punch, one Kongo isn’t likely to land, though he can definitely score some blows with his good kickboxing. Nelson’s ability to time right hands over an opponent’s shots is stellar; Kongo should circle to Nelson’s left and mix in kicks and look for knees to fire off if Nelson dips to shoot in.
On the ground, Nelson’s girth and top pressure figure to wear Kongo down. Cheick’s takedown defense has improved dramatically in recent years, and Nelson seems to taper off in takedown ability in long fights as he tires. Early on, however, he can simply steamroll people from the top.
Look for some good exchanges early before Nelson starts connecting with big punches, taking Kongo down in the second round and getting side control , mixing in punches and submission attempts to ultimately finish by kimura.
Nelson via submission.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 159 pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:35 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst.