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Fight doc explains how Roy Nelson set UFC record for strikes absorbed without a knockout

But also warns it would have been safer for "Big Country" to go limp in each fight as opposed to the usual "stand and bang" routine.

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Roy Nelson snapped a three-fight winning streak in defeat to Stipe Miocic last Saturday night (June 15, 2013) on the main card of the UFC 161: "Evans vs. Henderson" pay-per-view (PPV) event, which took place at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

In doing so, "Big Country" set a new UFC record.

It's probably not the one he was looking for, however, after playing the role of punching bag for 15 minutes in "The Peg." When all was said and done, Nelson had established a new mark of 437 significant strikes absorbed without being finished.

Forget the chin, that dude has a strong neck.

That's according to the Fightland doctor, Michael Kelly, who breaks down the anatomy of a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and how the size, shape and position of the jaw can directly (and indirectly) influence an athlete's ability to stay conscious during a firefight.

His analysis:

"Nelson might have extremely strong neck muscles. Strong neck muscles can cut down on the rotational force of a hit. A lot of what determines whether someone gets knocked out has to do with where the force is transmitted into the brain. Where there's a very strong rotational force on the skull-shots that come from the side, like hook punches, rather than straight linear shots--most of that vector force gets transmitted down into the brainstem area into what's called the reticular activating system and that's what's responsible for being awake. So when you go to sleep, certain cells on the reticular activating system will get stimulated and go to sleep. When you wake up, certain cells will get stimulated and you wake up. It's actually multiple tracks in the lower brain stem. Together their called the reticular activating system. And you have a layer of fluid surrounding the brain on the upper part. Again, with a very strong rotational force on the skull, say from a hook punch to the side of the jaw, what happens is there's motion on the top of the skull because the brain is sort of floating, but as you get down to the base where it's anchored, it's tighter. It doesn't have as much give. So that's when you get that kinking in that part of the brain and that causes loss of consciousness... So as you're hitting on the side and you rotate the head, it's a little bit easier to transmit that force to rotate the head. Whereas, when you're hitting direct on at the button of the chin, sometimes it's a little harder with a very strong mandible. That's where the shape of the jaw comes in. It's all a matter of shape and size. It has to do with the ability to transmit the force to the base of the skull."

Nelson (19-8) has only been finished once in his career, a knockout loss to former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski under the EliteXC banner back in 2008.

While the portly power-puncher remains a fan favorite, there is no guarantee he will return to the Octagon. Recent reports suggest he's been flirting with Bellator MMA, where he has the opportunity to join friend and training partner Muhammed Lawal.

Nelson would be a big fish in a little pond (literally), but at 37 years of age and a decade into his fighting career -- with no UFC title fight on the horizon -- it may be time to take the best offer he can get, wherever it may be.

See more on his UFC 161 performance here.


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