Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight contender Roy Nelson has had his ups and downs inside the Octagon; however, for the first time in over two years, "Big Country" has managed to string together consecutive victories under the ZUFFA banner.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 winner picked up another quick knockout, this time at the expense of fellow "Heavyweights" cast member Matt Mitrione, who took the TUF 16 finale fight against Nelson last night (Dec. 15, 2012) on short notice after Shane Carwin fell out of the "Sin City" contest due to injury.
It seems like a loss of an entire season of TUF to not book the original match up between Nelson and Carwin, but considering the severity of Carwin's knee injury, it's unlikely he is going to be fully recovered by the time Nelson wants to get back inside the cage.
Moreover, Nelson said at the event's post-fight press conference that since the match up with Carwin has failed to materialize on two separate occasions, he has no interest in lining up the bout for a third time.
With that is mind, what other options does Nelson have after his knockout of Mitrione?
Surveying the current landscape of the UFC heavyweight division, nearly every top fighter is either booked for a fight or injured.
While a number of matches could be made, there are two solid options for Nelson.
First, fight Cheick Kongo, who was asked to step in for Carwin against Nelson at the TUF 16 finale but declined the fight due to a lack of preparation time. Second, welcome former heavyweight champ Josh Barnett back to the organization.
Of the two hypothetical match ups, Nelson vs. Barnett sounds the most appealing. Kongo has been hit and miss with his performances as of late and considering the fashion of Nelson's win over Mitrione, it seems like a step back to put him against the Frenchman.
Barnett, on the other hand, would be a very intriguing option for Nelson going forward. Plus, it could potentially pit two of UFC President Dana White's most disliked fighters against one another.
From a purely competitive perspective, Nelson vs. Barnett would be all kinds of fun. Both men have knockout power in their hands, solid wrestling chops and stellar submission skills.
If Barnett is upset by Guelmino or isn't signed to the UFC following his final Strikeforce fight, then Nelson vs. Kongo works as well, it just isn't as attractive of a match up.
The win over Mitrione doesn't exactly spring Nelson into title contention, but with back-to-back wins, "Big Country" is slowly building momentum. Consistency is key for any mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and that's one thing Nelson has been lacking since joining UFC, likely due to his strength of schedule.
Until Nelson can string together three, four or five wins in a row, the 36-year-old won't be taken seriously as a title challenger, especially because he has already received a three-round beat down from divisional kingpin Junior dos Santos.
Regardless of what's next for Nelson, he is going to continue competing against the best heavyweights in the world while trying to knock their heads off one by one.
Who would you like to see Nelson fight next in his career? Let us know in the comments section below!
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