Bellator put forth another edition of their heavyweight tournament at Bellator 194 last night, with UFC vets Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione going at it.
The bout was a rematch, with Nelson taking their first meeting years back via TKO. But “Big Country” – infamous for his over-sized belly and unnatural mullet – had the magic of promise and potential back then. That magic has long since left him.
Yes, Nelson lost a majority decision last night. Yes, he tried to hug Mitrione to death. And yes, it sucked.
I remember vividly Nelson ascension, first in the IFL, then in TUF. He was an enigma, somehow both fat and in fantastic shape, and though he had a jiu-jitsu black belt, he was knocking dudes out.
But his waning years in the Octagon saw all those compelling traits fade. Now he’s in Bellator, and we get to watch this aged, overweight fighter struggle.
In all three rounds of his bout with Bellator 194 bout against Mitrione, Nelson scored takedowns – late in the first and second, and early in the third. But only in the third did Nelson show some grappling prowess. It was otherwise all about Mitrione kicking out his legs on the feet, and marking him up in the exchanges.
Obviously, the majority decision meant the bout was close on the scorecards. But it’s hard to watch the Nelson of now and not compare him to the Nelson of then.
Elsewhere on the card, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire smashed Derek Campos in a rematch. This time it was an uppercut that laid Campos out, and you have to hope the poor fella has learned to never trade punches with the Brazilian again.
Bellator has gone all in on pro boxer Heather Hardy’s transition to MMA, even though it’s been a rocky one. But hey, apparently putting Hardy in against a walking punching bag named Ana Julaton did the trick. Hardy took the decision after three “meh” rounds.