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UFC Fight Night 75 complete fighter breakdown, Roy 'Big Country' Nelson edition resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 75 headliner Roy Nelson, who looks to return to the win column this Saturday night (Sept. 26, 2015) at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Portly knockout artist, Roy Nelson, is set to collide with former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion, Josh Barnett, this Saturday night (Sept. 26, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 75 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote a fighter breakdown on Nelson ahead of his bout with Mark Hunt, as the two big men headlined a different UFC Fight Night in Japan. Were I to copy and paste that article here, it would work almost perfectly and be extremely accurate in describing the fighter who will show up on Saturday night.

"Big Country" simply hasn't evolved in the least.

At this point, Nelson's game -- which has been shockingly one-note and steadily unimpressive for literally years now -- is very well-known. Perhaps that's the reason he's lost four of his last five fights, with the lone victory coming over the barely moving and since-retired Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

With all that in mind, let's take a look at what "Big Country" brings to the table.


Nelson is essentially a one-handed fighter. He relies almost entirely on his right hand and rarely deviates from his overhand. Most of the time Nelson is on his feet, he's either lining up the overhand or actively throwing it.

Despite the absurd level of predictability, Nelson has secured 14 victories via knockout.

When Nelson does use his lead hand, its sole purpose is lining up his right. Tossing out jabs, Nelson looks to gauge distance and force his opponent to circle into the right hand. He'll occasionally fire off a cross behind his jab(s), and he'll also use the left hook to really motivate his opponent to move into the path of his right hand.

Since his opponent knows Nelson's chosen weapon -- and "Big Country" rarely diverts from it -- Nelson's ability to set up the strike is basically mandatory for him to pull off the victory. To his credit, he manages to line up his money punch quite well.

One of the best examples came in his bout with Cheick Kongo. Using takedown attempts and jabs to herd his opponent into the cage, Nelson quickly put his opponent in any uncomfortable position. Kongo resisted the urge to move into the right hand at first, but a few left hook feints had him switch directions before long.

From there, Nelson's aim was true, and the muscular Frenchman crumpled to the mat.

Another of Nelson's preferred set ups is the cross counter. Looking for his opponent to jab, Nelson will come over the top of his opponent's outstretched lead hand with a far more powerful strike. This attack worked to great effect opposite Nogueira, who repeatedly looked to keep Nelson at bay with a slow jab. Worse still than the speed of the punch, Nogueira kept his feet firmly planted and didn't move his head as he jabbed, leaving Nelson with an easy target.

If those two strategies fail, Nelson runs out if ideas quickly. Before long, he'll just throw the overhand over and over, recklessly throwing an obvious power shot that any semi-capable fighter can avoid. While his determination is admirably, it often leads to him missing badly and getting countered even worse.

Seriously, click HERE and look how confused Nelson becomes when Alistair Overeem covers up to block the overhand.


Nelson largely abandoned his wrestling after a terrible stand up from the referee cost him dearly against Andrei Arlovski. Outside of a few half-assed attempts to take his opponent's to the mat, Nelson hasn't really used his ground game in the last couple years.

All that said, Nelson's not a bad wrestler. Regardless of whether he's working in on his opponent's hips or in the clinch, Nelson keeps good position and pressure. As a short Heavyweight, he's often able to wrap up his opponent's hips with ease, and he will then look for the inside trip.

Nelson will also take a shot on occasion. Usually, he'll look for a single-leg takedown. If Nelson can get in on the hips -- which is a big if, as Nelson's shot isn't the fastest or particularly well set up -- he can finish more often than not. either by running the pipe or simply driving through his opponent.

Defensively, Nelson is actually really solid. His low center of gravity is a definite advantage, as it's tough for the average heavyweight to get beneath him. Even when faced with a spectacular wrestler in Daniel Cormier, Nelson managed to defend a few shots and work back to his feet quickly when he was taken down.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A black belt under Renzo Gracie and former competitive grappler, Nelson is a very solid jiu-jitsu player. Unfortunately, his skill on the mat has largely gone to waste, as Nelson rarely bothers to take the fight to the ground.

When Nelson does get on top of his opponents, his jiu-jitsu is fairly impressive. He's rather agile on the mat and can also power through his opponent's guard, too. In particular, Nelson's top pressure is excellent, as it's very difficult for his opponents to move from underneath him.

The most recent use of Nelson's jiu-jitsu came during his run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Against fairly amateur competition -- including Kimbo Slice -- Nelson repeatedly took his opponent down and controlled from top position. Once he passed guard, Nelson would pin one of his opponent's arms down with his legs and hook the opposite armpit, securing the crucifix position. Using his belly to pin down his opponent, Nelson could then smack him with small punches until the referee had seen enough.

When Nelson is taken down, he's not really an offensive grappler. However, he will use butterfly hooks to create space and scramble up to his feet quickly. He'll also kick off his opponent by placing his feet in the hips and exploding, once again giving him the room to spring back up.

Defensively, there's a reason that Nelson has yet to be submitted in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Even when Fabricio Werdum took his back early in the first round, Nelson quickly freed one leg from his back control. Afterward, he kept his chin tucked and kept control of one of Werdum's arose, preventing the choke. Before long, Nelson had successfully worked back to his feet.

Best Chance For Success

At this point in the article, Nelson's game plan should be abundantly clear. He's going to move around a bit, gauge the distance and then whip as many right hands as possible until Barnett is asleep or Nelson is gassed.

Really, that's not a bad strategy. Barnett is certainly hittable, and Nelson has the power to put down just about anyone. Plus, "Big Country's" takedown defense should be good enough early on to keep from getting put on his back. It's a simple plan and also his only real option.

But, he just has to land once.

Will Roy Nelson land another monstrous knockout, or will Josh Barnett be successful in his return to the Octagon?

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