UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson is closer to the age of 40 than he is 30, but that doesn't mean he is any less dangerous. On Saturday night at The Joint in the The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., Nelson stopped fellow season 10 'The Ultimate Fighter' alumnus Matt Mitrione with strikes in the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale. The win came officially at 2:58 of the first round.
Nelson was originally scheduled to face UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin, but a knee injury forced him to withdraw from the bout. Mitrione accepted the bout on approximately five weeks notice.
The bout went as many had anticipated. Mitrione and Nelson stayed true to their reputations as pocket exchagers. Mitrione worked more leg and body kicks while Nelson was content to punch, but both landed significant strikes in the first three minutes of the contest. Nelson only very briefly tied Mitrione up for a body lock takedown, an attempt which Mitrione nullified with the exclamation point of a thudding elbow to the side of Nelson's head.
The two continued exchanging until Nelson slowly walked into Mitrione and fired a rear-hand uppercut while Mitrione tried to whip across a left hook. Nelson won the exchange and hurt Mitrione badly. Two follow-up right hands sent Mitrione covering up. A few more strikes and that was enough to earn the referee stoppage.
This marks the second loss in a row for Mitrione, and the first time he's been finished. All of Nelson's five UFC victories have come by way of knockout or TKO. Nelson ups his UFC record to 5-3 while his professional record moves to 18-7. Mitrione moves to 5-2, all of the bouts having taken place in the Octagon.
When prompted to explain his late-in-athletic life penchant for striking despite having a jiu-jitsu background, Nelson argued he was born with a gift. That and striking wins are so much easier to come by.
"I think it's just one of those things - God blessed me (with striking)," Nelson said. "I used to submit everybody. But when I got my first knockout, I was like, 'This is so much easier than this wrestling and jiu-jitsu stuff.' I was looking to pick him apart and do it in the later rounds and show all the critics that a fat guy can go five rounds."
MMA Fighting's Dave Doyle live blogged the bout in real time as follows:
Round 1: Herb Dean is your main event referee. Both guys try to figure out their range early, clearly respecting one another's power. Nelson checks a Mitrione high kick and follows up with a combo. Nelson bodylocks Mitrione. Mitrione reverses position and lands a knee. Mitrione throws an elbow on the break. Mtirione with a kick to the body and Nelson is throwing big rights. Mitrione kicks low. Midway through the round. Nelson with a big right. Nelson drops him with an uppercut, starts raining down big right hands, and that's all she wrote as Dean steps in and stops it.
Roy Nelson def. Matt Mitrione via TKO at 2:58 of round one.