LAS VEGAS - Frank Mir did all he could to finish Roy Nelson, but "Big Country" refused to go out. Unfortunately Nelson's heart can't make up for his lack of conditioning and he was mauled in a one-sided fight against the former UFC heavyweight champ. In a physical, long fight Mir posted a unanimous decision victory, 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, over Nelson in the co-main event of UFC 130 at the MGM Grand Arena.
Mir (15-5, 13-5 UFC) won his second straight fight, but probably didn't do enough to move himself back in the title chase. By playing the role of punching bag and possessing solid defensive work on the ground, Nelson makes it tough for anyone to look good.
"How many times did I knee him in the face," Mir asked UFC analyst Joe Rogan during the postfight conversation in the cage. "What's with that guy's chin?"
Nelson (15-6, 2-2 UFC) fought at a solid pace for about three minutes and then started breathing heavily in the middle of the first round. Mir decided to wear him down by clinching along the cage. He made good use of the thai clinch (hands around the neck of the opposing fighter) by landing knees to the body and some big shots to the head. Nelson's a top level grappler and jiu-jitsu practitioner, but he was so exhausted in the second and third rounds that Mir was able to dump him to the ground five times. Mir used relatively slow and simplistic single and double-leg takedowns to get Nelson down. After grinding it out with Nelson, Mir was somewhat satisfied by the win.
"Wrestling was my main focus in this camp and I think it worked out well for me tonight," Mir said. "I'd rate my performance as a seven (out of 10). I expected to win the grappling aspect. It went even better than I had a planned. I felt like I was able to win in every aspect of the fight. Roy is really tough and I'm glad to leave here with the win."
The calls for the 6-foot Nelson to get in better shape or go down to 205 pounds are probably going to go unheard. Big Country is stubborn and knows that even in less than stellar shape, he can compete with most heavyweights in the No. 5-15 range.
"I trained with too many smaller guys for this camp and I paid for it tonight," Nelson said. "His wrestling was something I wasn't expecting and I just got tired. I'm looking forward to getting my gym time back so that I can work on getting bigger and stronger."
If Nelson adds "slimmer" to than plan, he'll benefit immensely. At a blubbery 260, he'll probably never break through to elite status.
The UFC's heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez is sidelined until the fall with a shoulder injury. In two weeks at UFC 131, Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin clash for the next title shot. After that, the division is wide open. Mir is certainly in the mix but probably has to post another win to lock up a shot.
Earlier in the night, UFC president Dana White announced that Brock Lesnar, another former champ, elected to undergo surgery in an effort to rid himself of diverticulitis. White said that Lesnar had 12 inches of his colon removed during a surgical procedure on Friday. The hope is that Lesnar can return in early 2012.