Going into his fight at UFC Fight Night 21, Roy “Big Country” Nelson had not yet faced such a unique match-up as he did with Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve. Struve is currently the tallest fighter in the UFC at 6 feet 11 inches tall. With Nelson being only 6 feet tall, the match-up looked to be one of the most intriguing we’ve seen in the Octagon. Although Struve’s reach seemed to pose a threat, it didn’t even faze Nelson as he pulled out a knock out victory in just 39 seconds of the first round. In addition to his win over Brendan Schaub in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, Nelson has now proved he is ready to take a step up in competition. Though he has expressed interest in a fight with newly signed boxer James Toney, the fight would not do anything to help Nelson make his way toward the top.
One of the first match-ups that comes to mind is Frank Mir. Mir, who is coming off a loss to Shane Carwin, would be a perfect stylistic fight for Nelson. Both are strong on the ground with black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Both are also excellent strikers. Nelson has showcased his striking ability by scoring knock outs in both of his fights in the UFC. Mir has greatly improved his striking over the past two years, which became evident in his fight with Antonia Rodrigo Nogueira. Mir’s standup looked to be at its best as he was able to box with Big Nog and knock him down twice in the first round. Mir went on to become the first man to finish the former Pride Heavyweight Champion when he did in the second round. With both Nelson and Mir having the ability to win the fight either on the ground or standing up, it makes for a very exciting bout and can take Nelson closer to the top of the heavyweight division.
Another possibility would be Gabriel Gonzaga. The former title contender has stood as a gatekeeper for the division since his loss to Randy Couture. Again, this fight is a very good match up because of the explosive power both men possess in their hands (and feet if you’re Gonzaga). Both are superior grapplers as well and have no problem taking the fight to the ground. It’s Gonzaga’s tough attitude that makes a win over him a true feat. If these two are ever facing each other from across the Octagon, don’t blink.