A prospect looking for redemption took on a veteran trying to get into the title picture last night (June 15, 2013) as Stipe Miocic battled Roy Nelson in the co-main event of UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Many analysts expected a blowout, particularly considering Nelson's recent stretch of first round knockouts, his top five rankings and the fact that Miocic was entering the bout on a loss.
They were right, just not the way they originally anticipated, as Miocic didn't just beat Nelson, but he beat the hell out of him over the course of three rounds.
Early on, Miocic circled away from Nelson's power and worked some straight jabs and right hands, trying to keep the burly brawler at a distance. Once the Ohioan got into a groove, he really opened up, unloading combinations on Nelson and forcing him to fight on his heels for once.
Nelson, to his credit, has one of the best chins in UFC heavyweight history and he took the shots as best he could, but that's about all you can praise about his performance here. This was pure domination from Miocic's perspective, scoring with massive combinations over and over and over again and always staying away from Nelson's power hand.
Time and time again Nelson would wing the overhand right, but it just could not connect. Nelson tried everything, lunging forward, throwing it as a counter, mixing it up as an uppercut, but he just had no set-up for the blow and the punishment he'd absorbed from Miocic along the way began to take its toll as the big man quickly became exhausted.
Miocic not only circled away from Nelson's power, but he refused to let Nelson pressure him into the fence, resetting in the cage center whenever he felt claustrophobic. Nelson was never able to pin him down in a spot and give his right hand an easier opportunity to score.
The miracle right bomb never came and Miocic continued to score, eventually winning a dominant unanimous decision, by far the best performance and overall victory of his career.
For Roy Nelson, this is what happens when you put all your hopes of winning a fight on scoring an early knockout. "Big Country" may have the adoration of the fans, but he was exposed last night for his limited overall skill-set. If he can't lunge in and blast you with the overhand right, he doesn't have much left to fall back on. Miocic picked him apart with jabs, straight punches, combinations and knees up the middle and he had no answer because his conditioning wasn't there, he lacked explosion and he had zero set-up for his big right hand.
He's going to have to really take a long look at what he's doing to prepare for fights if he wants to return to prominence. That belly is trademark, but it's holding him back at least in regards to speed and conditioning.