Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight bruisers Roy Nelson and Jared Rosholt will throw down this Saturday (Feb. 6, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 82 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
Nelson's habit of losing to top contenders and knocking out anyone else has held strong over the years. The issue for "Big Country" is that he's been fighting lots of tough opposition, causing him to lose five of his last six bouts.
Meanwhile, Rosholt is one of the few prospects in the Heavyweight division. Though he's won six of seven bouts inside the Octagon, Rosholt has yet to inspire any real confidence because of the tepid nature of his fights.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC Fight Night 39), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 21), Matt Mitrione (TUF 16 Finale)
Key Losses: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 143), Stipe Miocic (UFC 161), Junior dos Santos (UFC 117), Josh Barnett (UFC Fight Night 75)
Keys to Victory: Nelson is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt best known for the knockout power in his right hand, helping him score 14 of his victories via knockout. In addition, Nelson is famous for his durability -- the man can take huge numbers of insanely hard punches without dropping.
In his last bout, Nelson came up short in a clear-cut decision loss to Barnett. However, it was also the best performance of his recent career, as Nelson mixed up his strikes a touch more than usual and even turned to his underutilized wrestling.
If Nelson can bring that level of skill to this fight, it really shouldn't be too difficult for him. Despite his soft appearance, Nelson is a difficult man to take down, which is Rosholt's only real path to victory.
So long as Nelson doesn't gas horribly, Rosholt doesn't bring anything to the table that Nelson cannot handle. His game is rather basic, and a veteran like Nelson should be able to frustrate him long enough to find a home for his right hand.
It's what "Big Country" does.
Key Wins: Stefan Struve (UFC 193), Soa Palelei (UFC Fight Night 43), Timothy Johnson (UFC Fight Night 73)
Key Losses: Alexey Oleinik (UFC Fight Night 57)
Keys to Victory: A three-time Division 1 All-American wrestler, Rosholt is a very powerful grappler. He's manhandled most of his opponent, and he has shown to have some power when he actually lets his hands go.
This is a difficult bout to analyze and game plan for, because Rosholt's success or failure really comes down to one thing: his offensive wrestler vs Nelson's takedown defense. Power or not, he's not likely to knock out Nelson and beat him up on the feet, so grappling is a must.
Basically, if Rosholt can score takedowns and keep Nelson down, this bout is very likely to go his way. If, however, Nelson's takedown defense allows him to keep this fight standing, then things will get ugly for Rosholt quickly.
If Rosholt does find himself in that situation, his best chance for success is to merely force a clinch battle. Even if he can't secure the shot, stuffing Nelson into the fence will prevent him from swallowing an overhand and could cause Nelson to fatigue.
Bottom Line: Both of these Heavyweights are ranked, but neither has a position inside the Top 10. That's unlikely to change from this bout alone, but it could determine which direction the fighters are heading from here.
That said, this is an important bout for Nelson. He's been losing badly, but those loses came to some of the best fighters in the world. If he falls to Rosholt, he'll be slipping even further down the ladder and could even find himself on the chopping block.
Alternatively, the expected knockout victory means that nothing has changed, and Nelson is still the gatekeeper to the top.
Rosholt has a real opportunity to legitimize himself as a contender. Besides Stefan Struve -- whose current ability is basically unknown due to how poorly he's been fighting -- Rosholt hasn't beaten a single tried-and-true UFC veteran. "Big Country" is a name that people recognize, so if Rosholt defeats him then the division will be forced to take notice.
If Rosholt does come up short here, he doesn't really lose any ground. However, it also doesn't set high expectations for how Rosholt would do when faced with any of the men ranked higher than Nelson, so Rosholt could find himself stranded just outside of the Top 10.
At UFC Fight Night 82, Roy Nelson and Jared Rosholt will scrap in the co-main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?