The latest in the long procession of former UFC fighters to make the jump to Bellator MMA is The Ultimate Fighter season 10 winner and long-time heavyweight contender Roy Nelson. News of Nelson’s move to Bellator was first reported by Ariel Helwani in late May, though the details of his debut remained hazy at that time.
Now, that has changed. Over the weekend, the details of the hard-hitting heavyweight’s debut were announced by the promotion. He will make his debut in the Bellator cage at Bellator 183, which is scheduled for September 23 in San Jose, California. His opponent will be Javy Ayala.
Nelson will enter this fight with a 2-3 record in his last 5 fights. Over the course of these 5 bouts, he separated decision losses to Josh Barnett, Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov with a decision defeat of Jared Rosholt, and a knockout over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. He is 22-14 overall.
Ayala, meanwhile, while enter this Bellator 183 showdown on an impressive 2-fight streak. In his most recent bout, he scored a massive, 16-second upset knockout over the highly regarded Sergei Kharitonov. He preceded this win with a first-round TKO of Roy Boughton. He owns an overall record of 10-5.
Bellator 183 will be headlined by a lightweight duel between former UFC champion and two-time Bellator title challenger Benson Henderson, and hard-hitting Bellator staple Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.
Freire will enter this bout having recently levelled Josh Thomson with a second round punch. This win separated him from a knockout loss to Michael Chandler. Henderson, meanwhile, was last seen in the cage in November, when he lost a split decision to Chandler in a lightweight title fight. This loss was preceded by a controversial, injury-induced defeat of Patricky Freire’s brother Patricio.
How do you think Roy Nelson will do in his Bellator debut? How do you think he’ll perform against Bellator heavyweight stars like Cheick Kongo, Bobby Lashley, Sergei Kharitonov, Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/27/2017.