Who wins the Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson main event at UFC Fight Night 75, and how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Josh Barnett wins this fight if he can avoid getting clocked upside the head by Roy Nelson’s overhand right. If four out of Nelson’s last five opponents are any indicator, this shouldn’t be a problem. Nelson has embraced the everyman persona during his run in the UFC, looking more like a couch potato than even a weekend warrior and talking about fast food endorsements as opposed to some of the more health-forward or performance based ones most MMA fighters go for. If you’re looking to stand out, it’s a unique shtick to push.
That said, it’s one thing to imagine there’s a well-conditioned athlete hidden under the layers that Roy Nelson carries around. One that has the cardio of some of the more chiseled physiques out there, and the skills of the gladiator-looking fighters to boot. It’s another thing to see Nelson predictably huff and puff around the Octagon after a round an a half. It gets worse when his strategy(?) devolves to eating umpteen punches to the head in an effort to connect with his right hand. It’s not pretty, and the inhuman beatings he’s able to take because of otherworldly toughness do not equate MMA skill.
I have no problem with how Roy Nelson looks. He’s comfortable in his own skin, and if he’s a healthy individual there’s absolutely no judgment for me to pass on him if that’s how he wants to look. The reason that most athletes look athletic is because there’s a certain level of dedication that it takes to be at the top of your sport. If you’re that dedicated, you just can’t help morphing into a person who just looks like they’re in shape. Nelson is not in shape, doesn’t care about being in shape, and fights a lazy MMA fight with the goal of connecting on his puncher’s chance at victory. The predictability of it all is getting easier and easier to navigate.
Barnett is a smart guy. He may be a (reformed) cheater, but he’s a smart guy. PEDs or no, he’s got a lot of tools to work with, and he’s intelligent enough to minimize Nelson’s chances of bouncing one off his noggin. Nelson will get tired, he’ll get taken down, and then he’ll get roughed up on the ground. He’s tough enough that Barnett isn’t likely to knock him out, but all the toughness in the world won’t keep you in a fight when the blood is cut off to your brain. Barnett scores a late round submission as Nelson fatigues under the weight of his own, well, weight I guess. On an unrelated note, I suddenly have a hankerin’ for some Burger King.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I’ll pick Barnett by submission. I think he’ll wear Nelson down and lock on a rear-naked choke or something. I think Barnett’s unique style will help him get an advantage on Nelson and lead to his victory. I also think the Japanese crowd will be behind Barnett and give him an added boost. This is a very interesting fight and one that should be very exciting.
ALEX WILLIAMS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Josh Barnett is nearly 38 years old. While he impressively bested Dean Lister in a submission wrestling match in August 2014, he hasn’t fought in 21 months, and that fight he lost via first round knock out. I’m not optimistic about his chances for a successful return to MMA. I’m even less optimistic, though, about Roy Nelson’s chances for victory. “Big Country” is 39 years old and 1-4 stretching back to June 2013. Barnett via decision unless he’s totally spent.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
While Nelson can’t ever be counted out thanks to his powerful right hand, I’d say Barnett is among the more savvy vets at heavyweight, and will be able to avoid the KO blow. He’ll be in good shape if he can escape the first round as six of Nelson’s seven UFC victories came in the first round. From there I expect Barnett to use his catch wrestling to wear down Big Country before catching him in a submission late in the fight. Nelson has been in five round fights before, but has never actually gone past three rounds. He’ll be vulnerable once he gets past that point.
[Roy Nelson art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch]