LAS VEGAS -- If you're expecting Roy Nelson to wait around for Shane Carwin, well, forget about it. As far as "Big Country" is concerned, his first-round TKO of Matt Mitrione on Saturday night was the capper of his entire "Ultimate Fighter" experience, Carwin included.
"I'm focusing on somebody besides Shane," Nelson said. "We've already been down that road twice, and we already know who was the best coach, because my guy won."
The 37-year-old Carwin has been out of action since his June 2011 loss to Junior dos Santos at UFC 131. Carwin had to pull out of the fight against his fellow Ultimate Fighter 16 coach about four weeks ago. And while Carwin just can't seem to catch a break, as far as Nelson's concerned it is time to move on.
Asked at the post-fight press conference if he felt that he missed out by not getting the payoff of fighting Carwin at the end, Nelson said.
"No I think it's more that Shane missed out. ... I'm fully past it, like I said before."
Meanwhile, defeating a replacement fighter who had half a training camp in Mitrione doesn't exactly vault you up the rankings, but Saturday night's fight at the Joint at the Hard Rock still demonstrated Nelson's advancement as a mixed martial artist. He started out his career relying on his wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and submissions, then switched to swinging for the fences. Not without reason, as all five of his UFC wins have come via knockout.
But Saturday night, Nelson looked like a more evolved striker that the fighter who would simply take damage while waiting on his opening for a one-punch knockout.
"I think it's just one of those things - God blessed me," 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.
"It's the first time I've thrown combos - that's why I can't wait to fight Junior Dos Santos or Cain [Velasquez]."
That remains to be seen, to be polite. But with three wins in his past four fights, it's clear that UFC president Dana White won't be able to shake himself of one of his least favorite fighters any time soon.
TUF 16 Finale Quotes
"Jamie Varner was throwing up like 'The Exorcist' back there. He still wanted to fight, but the doctor wouldn't let him." -- Dana White, on the illness which forced the postponement of Varner vs. Melvin Guillard to UFC 155.
"I had success on the show. I fought four times and I won four times. All four times I was undersized, every time I was in the clinch I felt it." -- Mike Ricci, who says he's going back to lightweight after his loss to Colton Smith.
"It was funny, he hit me and I saw those cartoons flash. When I woke up, I didn't really know what was going on, and I was like ‘why am I thinking about Spongebob?' -- Mike Pyle, who saw cartoon sponges when rocked by James Head.
"They're doing what they have to do to get recognition or whatever. I don't blame them, I would to if I was them. I'd be doing everything I could to try to make myself look like the UFC, or advertise anywhere near the UFC. ... It's not a big deal. More power to them. I don't blame them". -- White, on Bellator's advertisements during UFC events.
"If you have kids, go hug them like it's your last day." -- Pat Barry, referencing Friday's tragedy in Connecticut.
To the Nevada Athletic Commission, for pulling the plug on Varner vs. Guillard. If Varner really was as sick as everyone was saying, there was no real reason to put him in the Octagon, even if he did insist he still wanted to fight. Much better to move the bout to UFC 155 in two weeks and presumably have the two fight at full strength.
It was a truly bizarre sequence in the opening moments of the second round of the Smith-Ricci fight. First, Smith appeared to land a low blow of a kick to Ricci. Referee Steve Mazzagatti let the action continue. Then, when Ricci charged in after Smith, Ricci appeared to nail Smith with a punch directly to the throat. Fight on, said Mazzagatti. Granted, this was the most interesting sequence of the fight. But that said, while I'm not generally one to pick on Mazzagatti, these things do seem to happen in fights he calls more often than most, and they lend credence to his critics.
Stock Up: Mike Pyle
The rap on "Quicksand" used to be that he was an ace in the gym, but could never quite put it all together in the arena. At this point, though, that reputation should be sunk. Pyle impressed in his victory over Head, using veteran poise to shake off a big uppercut and rally for a TKO victory.
With that, the Las Vegas resident has won three straight fights, all first-round finishes. He's also won six of seven, with the only loss in that stretch to Rory McDonald. In his postfight interview, Pyle said he belongs in the welterweight top 10. Whether that's true, he's earned the right to test himself against a top-10 fighter.
"I'm here, I'm trying to do the best I can, and at 37 I'm doing better and better," Pyle said.
Stock Down: Shane Del Rosario
I'm sorry to say this, because he's by all accounts a pretty good dude, but as of now, it looks like Del Rosario just hasn't been able to shake off the effects of the car accident which sidelined him for more than a year. Del Rosario was 11-0 and coming off a strong win over Lavar Johnson in a Strikeforce Grand Prix alternates bout when he suffered a spinal injury when his car was rear-ended while he was waiting at a red light in Orange County. Since returning, his striking just hasn't looked up to snuff in a pair of losses, the first a TKO loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 146 and the second brutal KO at the hands of Pat Barry last night. Maybe you give Del Rosario another shot at a lower-ranked UFC heavyweight, or maybe the best option is for him to go to smaller shows for awhile and rebuild his confidence. But his fights are becoming tough to watch.
Point to ponder
There's a train of thought out there which suggest that the UFC's post-fight bonus system is weighted in favor of the headliners. So it's worth noting that the Fight of the Night awards on the past three cards have gone to the opening bout of the preliminary card. Saturday night's award went to the brawl between Tim Elliott and Jared Papazian. One night earlier and halfway across the world, Cody Donovan and Nick Penner took the honors. This came a week after Scott Jorgensen's sensational comeback over John Albert at UFC on FOX 5. Jorgensen also took submission of the night honors with his victory. And it's not like these were bad fight cards and the only choice was to give the award to the opener, either. If this keeps up, we'll probably start hearing the White is biased in favor of the Facebook fighters.
Fight I Want to See Next: Roy Nelson vs. Pat Barry
There's a logjam at heavyweight. Junior dos Santos is fighting Cain Velasquez. Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are off coaching the next TUF: Brazil. Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett are fighting on the next Strikeforce card. Stefan Struve is fighting Mark Hunt, Travis Browne is injured, and who knows when Carwin will return. Granted, this leaves Frank Mir unaccounted for. But, Nelson really doesn't move back up in the pecking order much by defeating Mitrione, Barry never backs down from a challenge and is looking to build his momentum off Saturday's win, and the fight sure would seem to promise from fireworks. So, why not?