Like Johnny Dangerously, Roy Nelson realizes it's time for him to go legit.
If "Big Country" wants to become a UFC heavyweight title contender, then he needs to make a "big" statement against former champion Frank Mir when they collide at UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill" tomorrow night (May 28, 2011) in Las Vegas.
And that means not allowing "The Sniper" to set the pace.
The winner of their titanic tilt is expected to be in contention for the 265-pound strap now that the intestinally-challenged Brock Lesnar has taken a medical leave of absence (again) and opened up a spot in the top three.
And as Nelson tells Beatdown Radio (via Sherdog.com), it's time for him to see if "he's the man:"
"I think Frank wants to pretty much fight his pace. As long as you fight his pace, I think he can be more of a sniper and pinpoint his striking. Then if it gets down to the ground, then it’s one of those things: As long as you play his pace, I think it’s definitely a fight that you play right into Frank’s hands. My edge is usually just if I’m the better fighter. I like to do what God gave you and go, ‘Let’s see if I’m the man.’"
Mir (14-5) is coming off a knockout win over Mirko Filipovic at UFC 119 back on Sept. 25. His third round finish over "Cro Cop" was impressive, unfortunately it was also called "one of the worst main events in UFC history."
In fact, Mir's performance was so pitiful that UFC President Dana White failed to recognize his stoppage as "Knockout of the Night" -- despite it being the only (T)KO finish of the entire event.
Still, it should be noted that the jiu-jitsu black belt has heavy hands, knocking out Brazilian vegetable Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira after stiffening Cheick Kongo en route to a Dec. '09 submission win.
He's a top ten heavyweight no matter how you slice it.
Nelson (15-5) was also on the fast-track to bigger and better opportunities within the division -- until he ran headfirst into a Brazilian roadblock named Junior dos Santos at UFC 117 last August.
"Cigano" took home the unanimous decision win and the right to challenge Cain Velasquez, which he cashed in for a TUF 13 coaching gig (and eventual superfight against
Brock Lesnar Shane Carwin) after the champ was sidelined with a torn rotator cuff.
The loss snapped "Big Country's" undefeated streak since graduating from TUF 10, but you can bet your bottom dollar a decisive win over Mir would carry him right back to the top of the contender's list.
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson at UFC 130. Who ya' got?