UFC Fight Night 39 Play: Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (+135) vs Roy “Big Country” Nelson (-155)

Roy NelsonUFC Fight Night 39 Date: April 11, 2014 Arena: DU Arena City: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Heavyweight bout: Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (+135) vs Roy “Big Country” Nelson (-155) Fight Breakdown: The main event for UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi will be a five-round heavyweight contest between former PRIDE and UFC interim heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira and The Ultimate Fighter season 10 winner, Roy “Big Country” Nelson. “Big Nog” is the underdog in this heavyweight tilt at +135 ($100 to win $135), while “Big Country” is the favorite at -155 ($155 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (19-9 MMA, 6-5 UFC) is currently on a two fight skid, coming off a unanimous decision loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 166 nearly half a year ago, and Cormer has since dropped to the light heavyweight division, a move Nelson himself was pondering on making before taking the Cormier bout. The loss followed another unanimous decision defeat, which came against Stipe Miocic at UFC 161, a fight which he took on short notice that ultimately snapped a three fight win streak he had built. Nelson is an excellent grappler who has excellent top control. He has good takedowns, but often does not score them because not only do his opponents have solid takedown defense, but he is also undersized against them. “Big Country” is known for his hard right hand, which is a vicious weapon that has put out the likes of Matt Mitrione, Stefan Struve, Cheick Kongo, Mirko Cro Cop, and Dave Herman. Nelson and his right hand are always a threat against anyone in the UFC’s heavyweight division. All of his professional mixed martial arts career victories have come by way of knockout, while all his losses have been via unanimous decision. The TUF season 10 winner is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and owns five wins by submission, while 12 of 19 come by way of knockout, and only two by decision. Nelson generally has good conditioning for a heavyweight. While he seemed to be lacking in that department in his last outing, I expect him to be ready for a full 25 minutes against the Brazilian, though he likely feels confident he won’t need to. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (34-8-1-1 NC MMA, 5-4 UFC) is coming off a second round armbar submission loss to Fabricio Werdum ten months ago. After a lengthy layoff, the veteran returns for his tenth appearance inside the Octagon, and will be looking to get back on the win column. “Minotauro” has solid boxing skills and is a great dirty boxer, especially inside the clinch against the cage. He likes to clinch up with his opponents there and score points with his dirty boxing. He works best with his opponents backed up against the cage, as was evident in the Brendan Schaub bout, as well as the second Frank Mir bout. He knocked out Schaub, and had Mir badly hurt, too, but the Brazilian made the mistake of going for a guillotine rather than finishing the fight with strikes, and he paid for it dearly, as Mir reversed positioned and ended up securing an armbar. Nogueira refused to tap until the second Mir broke his right arm. “Minotauro” has a nice lead jab, and a hard right hand. He has good striking defense, and times his punches well. “Big Nog” is a bit slow to begin with, and slows down even more as the fight progresses. He has a good chin, but it isn’t great. If Nelson connects, it may not hold up. You could say it has been diminishing with age, much like his cardio has. Contrary to popular opinion, I think it will be “Big Country” who has the better cardio heading into this bout, not the other way around. is an excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, and one of the most respected black belts on the planet. That said, I don’t think he will be able to submit Nelson, who himself is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with solid submission defense. I don’t think “Big Nog” will be able to score a T/KO over Nelson, either, so I think his only shot at a victory is to win at least three of fight rounds on the judges’ scorecards, and against the hard-hitting, never-quitting Roy Nelson, that is a tall order. Gabe’s Prediction: If this fight goes the distance, I could see “Big Nog” taking a decision. However, I think more often than not, “Big Country” would be the one earning the call on the judges’ scorecards. On top of that, he has a legitimate chance of connecting with Nogueira’s chin, and finishing this fight. For those reasons, I like Roy Nelson to get his hand raised, especially at the current betting line of -155. Gabe’s Call: “Big Country” by TKO (punches, 2:29 round 3) – Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think Nelson’s only shot at finishing the fight is in the first round. I think he can connect in any round. Sure, he will have full energy and strength in the first, but I don’t believe it will make to much of a difference with him. Gabe’s Recommended Play: Roy Nelson (-155) 3.41u to win 2.2u

Written by Gabe Killian

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