When injury struck UFC 161, we first lost an interim title bout that headlined the card. Then, our new co-main event event that featured Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was forced off the card, leaving a shell of what was once a highly-anticipated card.
With the injury bug wreaking havoc on the main card, the UFC called upon fan favorite, Roy Nelson (19-7) to replace a returning Soa Palelei in a heavyweight bout against Stipe Miocic (9-1).
This adds some star power to a fight that would have been good, but maybe wouldn’t have drawn the extra fans with a name like Palelei in there.
Nelson, aware of his role on this card, commented recently, at a UFC 161 media day, that he knows that the UFC is using him to salvage this main card:
“The reason why they gave me Stipe is because they needed someone to sell out the arena. They put me on it. As soon as they put me on it, it sold out,”
Nelson has been on a tear as of late winning his last three fights by knockout, with his latest opponent, Cheick Kongo, falling early in the first at UFC 159. Like Kongo after UFC 159, Nelson’s UFC contract will expire after his bout at UFC 161. However, with the potential (however slight it may be), of Nelson not being re-signed to the promotion lingering, Nelson remains calm, saying that this fact doesn’t hang heavy over his head:
“I think win or lose, I have fans and fans want to watch me fight. Win or lose, I always give a hundred percent. I actually just got the best compliment, he said ‘I remind him of the Mike Tyson era where you never know what’s going to happen with one punch’.”
As Nelson has demonstrated by not winning a fight by decision since 2007 (but winning 10 by KO since), he has the ability to knockout pretty much anyone he lays his hands on — hands that he wants to lay on a champion:
“To be the undisputed, heavyweight champion of the world, you have to fight everybody. I think that’s really the goal instead of fighting everybody like 4 or 5 times. I think Cain [Velasquez’s] already fought two guys twice,” Nelson said. “Undisputed would be like how [Georges St-Pierre’s] already gone through the whole division and then after he’s gone through the division, they’re like ‘okay, let’s go through it again’. That’s kind of undisputed, not the way you the the same guy 3 or 4 times.”
“The way I look at it in the UFC, there’s 25 guys, let’s go through all 25 of them. That’s why our division is so rare. Anyone can win, that’s the beauty of it. This isn’t boxing where let’s set it up so I can get 30 matches by doing scrubs and then let’s do the big one,” Nelson added. “It’s just in our business anything can happen. And that’s what I love about the UFC, that’s why people watch me, one punch you never know what’s going to happen.”
Its up to his opponent, Stipe Miocic, to play spoiler on Nelson’s run. Miocic has been training for this date but as we all know, Nelson always comes ready to fight.
UFC 161 takes place Saturday, June 15th at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The main event is a fight between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.
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