Chris Cox: A Foolish Gamble

UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson heads back to the drawing board after a stunning loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 (Photo by Daven Madel, Sherdog.com).

Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer

Saturday night, I sat back on my couch and noticed Twitter and Facebook began to explode before Roy Nelson took the Octagon at UFC 161 in Winnipeg. I mean, how can you not like the guy? He is the vision of the ordinary guy in the sports world. In a land of monstrous and muscle bound heavyweights stands a guy with no six-pack on his stomach and a mullet, not to mention an epic beard. He is what most fans want to see, a guy who always looks for the knockout and basically cannot be knocked out himself.

The problem is how he handled himself last Saturday night. I will be honest. I picked him to win. I brushed Stipe Miocic off after the Stevan Struve knockout loss last September and expected to see him face down on the floor with Roy Nelson on SportsCenter’s Top 10 the next morning.

Despite Nelson taking the fight on short notice, no one gave Miocic a chance when it came to the stand-up. Miocic is known for his submissions more than his hands, and MMA fans all across the world were gathered together for what most expected to provide the Knockout of the Night. Well, there was one problem with that plan. No one told Miocic he was supposed to lose!

Miocic made a statement on Saturday night when he stepped into the Octagon and cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Fast, fluid combos and great footwork made rather easy work of Nelson, who was gassed out and could barely do anything by the end of the second round. Miocic beat down Nelson so much that he set a record for most significant strikes landed in a fight. Nelson took 106 strikes without being knocked out, which I will admit is a credit to his chin, but the fact is he was utterly dominated to the point of embarrassment.

This is a guy who was supposed to be knocking on the door of a title shot, and the fact is that Miocic stepped in and picked him apart. He exposed the style that Nelson brings to the cage as futile. Nelson is a highly awarded grappler and a Black Belt in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu. Where were the takedowns? Where were the submission attempts? You can try to stand and brawl all you want, but, if a fighter is getting the best of you on the feet, than you need to rethink what you are doing when you go into that next round. Use that size to your advantage if you are going to keep it. I would not have cared if he walked in there and did the exact same thing he did to Kimbo Slice and James McSweeney on The Ultimate Fighter, which was simply score a takedown and put his stomach on their bodies to punish them in the crucifix. All I ask is use an effective game plan.

When Nelson stepped into the Octagon on Saturday night, it was the last fight on his UFC contract. He chose not to negotiate before the Miocic fight, which made apparent sense beforehand. If he goes in there, lands another stunning performance and gets the crowd even more behind him, there is no doubt that he makes his negotiating position much stronger. Unfortunately for him, that did not happen, and he now finds himself in a very vulnerable situation.

Nelson now has some work to do because he will be sent back to the drawing board. I do believe he will be back in the UFC, but, if he does not change his style and adapt, he will only be seen as a stepping stone towards the top of the heavyweight division.

Despite the performance from Nelson, take nothing away from Miocic on this win. He put on a flawless fight, and it will be interesting to see who he draws next in the Octagon. Without question, he will have to prove that this win over Nelson was no fluke and he is a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division.

As for the rest of the night last weekend, I was left with only two thoughts. First, Rashad Evans looked awesome in his fight against Dan Henderson. His use of speed was the key in that win, and I hope to see that finishing power of his now return back to its peak. Thought number two was directed more towards the start of the main card. There needs to be a women’s match on every card. They bring the war and excitement. Bottom line. I have not had one bad thing to say about any match that division has showcased. I absolutely love it.

Next up, it is going to be an interesting couple of weeks as we head into July where UFC 162 will take place, featuring a middleweight title fight between long-time champion Anderson Silva and undefeated contender Chris Weidman. Will it be the Upset of the Year or just another win in the Hall of Fame career of Silva? Only time will tell, but the entire MMA world will be tuned into that one for sure.



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