LAS VEGAS – Win the UFC heavyweight title, and you’re likely to be billed as the Baddest Man on the Planet.
Veteran Roy Nelson, though, suggested – tongue in cheek, perhaps – that the label could belong to a non-champion.
Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a former UFC contender who recently made a successful Bellator debut, next meets Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) in Bellator 194’s main event. The Feb. 16 fight, which airs on Paramount from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., is part of Bellator’s yearlong heavyweight grand prix, which crowns a new champion in the weight class.
It’s actually a rematch for Nelson, who beat Mitrione, who’s now ranked No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, via TKO in 2012. Although Nelson said he welcomes rematches, he prefers they come against fighters he lost to – not those he’s already beat.
Two of those past losses he’d like to run back? They came via decision in back-to-back fights in 2013, when he lost to Stipe Miocic (now the UFC heavyweight champion) and Daniel Cormier (the reigning light-heavyweight champ).
Coincidentally, Cormier (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is now slated to fight Miocic (18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) for his heavyweight belt in UFC 226’s pay-per-view headliner on July 7. It’s a champion-vs.-champion fight that will determine the world’s best heavyweight. Then again, didn’t Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC), the towering UFC heavyweight who’s had an uneven octagon run, already beat Miocic back in 2012?
“I mean Stefan Struve knocked him out,” Nelson told MMAjunkie. “So, I guess Stefan Struve is the Baddest Man on the Planet.”
But in all seriousness, it’s a showcase fight for MMA’s big men, but Nelson is going with the smaller of the two.
“I have Daniel winning that fight over Stipe, especially this far out because he actually has a (full) camp,” Nelson said. “I’m just going off my experience with the fights (against each one).
“I fought Daniel with a camp, then I fought Stipe without a camp, and then I judge it against that. And I go, ‘Daniel will probably win.’”
Check out the full chat above.
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- 'Bellator 194 Countdown,' No. 1: Who knew Matt Mitrione was so OCD?
- Roy Nelson discusses most exciting aspect of Bellator grand prix rematch with Matt Mitrione
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Baddest Man on the Planet? It's Stefan Struve, jokes Roy Nelson