Going into UFC 130, I've been thinking a lot about Roy Nelson's last showing against Junior Dos Santos. it was truly an amazing fight, and not just because I enjoy watching Big Country get beat up. While everyone touts the boxing expertise of JDS, I feel man neglect the incredible defense of Nelson throughout the match.
Well, right now I'm very disappointed as a google search has left me empty handed of any full fight videos to gif from. But I hope some of you will still appreciate what I can break down from memory.
From the opening bell, Roy comes out with his hands very high. He keeps both both hands up by his temples while each forearm blocks his chin. This is a very strong boxing defense as it blocks the areas most susceptible to Dos Santos's power punching. Of course, under other circumstances this defense is very inadvisable. Obviously, if Junior was a takedown machine, having his hands so high would leave Roy open to those attempts. However, knowing his opponent and how unlikely a takedown attempt would be from JDS, Nelson implemented a great defensive strategy to best nullify his opponent's advantage.
There are a few notable moments in the fight where Junior takes advantage of Nelson's high defense and punishes him with brutal body shots and uppercuts. However, these are typically not instantaneous fight ending shots in any fight, and he wasn't able to produce a finish.
There are a couple points I really want to touch on concerning the discussion of this fight that have prevailed since UFC 117. Over and over again, I've heard people exclaim about Roy's "Iron Chin" and question Cigano's technique because of his inability to finish Big Country. In my opinion, these statements completely ignore the greater points of the fight.
First, it is very difficult for a striker as talented and powerful as Junior to finish someone who's playing a mostly defensive game. This isn't meant in any way to take away from Nelson's fighting ability, but on the feet, he seemed to know that he was outclassed and gameplanned specifically to keep from being knocked out. In fact, this actually exemplifies his intelligence as a fighter and ability to strategize.
And second, why didn't either fighter have a Plan B. It seems clear to me that Nelson's plan was to survive Cigano's punishing blows in order to clinch and take the fight to the ground. However, Junior showed great takedown defense and never found himself in trouble on that front. On the other hand, even though he was thoroughly dominating on the feet, JDS never showed any inclination to adjust his strategy to go for a finish. Why didn't he threaten a takedown or two to try to get Roy to lower his hands? Why didn't he try to go full Couture and punish Nelson against the cage?
Overall this was a great contest any amazing display of MMA talent by both guys. Hope you all enjoyed this gifless chop.