By: Jesse Donathan
Coming into the main event of Bellator 231 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut both UFC veterans Frank Mir (19-13, 5 KOs) and Roy Nelson (23-18, 15 KOs) were riding multiple fight losing streaks, with Mir having dropped four bouts in a row, most recently falling to Javy Ayala via second round TKO at Bellator 212 this past December in 2018. As for Nelson, having dropped sum three fights in a row himself, including his most recent outing at Bellator 216 against mixed martial arts legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in February, stepping into the cage in a rematch against Mir meant a chance for redemption. The two originally met at UFC 130 in 2011, with Mir taking home a three round unanimous decision victory. Inevitably, somebodies losing streak was going to end Friday night and it ultimately turned out to be Frank Mir’s.
Incredibly, Mir weighed in at 265.75 pounds for his rematch with Roy “Big Country” Nelson Friday night, which as fight commentator “Big” John McCarthy pointed out is stretching the limits of the 265-pound mixed martial arts heavyweight division. From the beginning, Nelson came out controlling the cage and pressing the action early on in the fight, stalking Frank Mir with short, plodding steps indicative of someone looking to set up a big shot and make quick work of the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion. Content to set back and counter strike, the story of the first round and perhaps the entire fight itself was Frank Mir’s highly effective inside leg kicks which routinely sent Nelson’s heavily weight distributed lead leg flying. The technique by in large prevented “Big Country” from finding his rhythm and setting up those legendary fight ending hands. The first round was a relatively clear 10-9 round for a Frank Mir who did his homework.
Photo Credit: Frank Mir Twitter Account
Though Mir still threw the inside leg kicks in the second stanza, he did so with less frequency than in the previous round as the game plan appeared to have been to soften Roy’s legs up in the first, hindering his mobility and overall movement in order to attempt to get Nelson out of there in the second. Though the savvy 43-year old veteran Nelson ultimately proved to be still quite durable, he is obviously missing the overall speed and explosiveness he once possessed just a few short years ago during his UFC tenure.
The second round was marked with Mir willing to stand and trade with a “Big Country” who did not appear to have a plan B besides banging it out with Mir, which was likely due in part to the unusually dangerous threat Mir poses in the grappling department. The second round was a more competitive and entertaining fight than the first, though one still ultimately judged a 10-9 round on my score card for a Frank Mir who just appeared to be the more dynamic fighter in the cage.
In between the second and third rounds, Nelson’s corner seemed particularly concerned with his nose, with one of his cornermen having a gauze at the ready as “Big Country” sat down to rest and compose himself. Seemingly finding his second wind or perhaps feeling a sense of urgency, “Big Country” would come out strong early on in the third, with the fighter appearing noticeably more aggressive and focused on the task at hand. After some back and forth action, the referee Todd Anderson would call a halt to the action with approximately 3-minutes and 30-seconds left in the round, the result of an accidental low blow from Mir that always seems to get the audience’s attention.
With the action restarted, Nelson would again resume his low, crouched stance in an effort to catch Mir with one of his customary fight ending big shots, though the crafty former UFC champion successfully evaded the thunder to keep his consciousness. With Mir seemingly exhausted and little more to offer, Nelson would go on to stalk his winded opponent around the cage for the remainder of the fight, ultimately displaying his heralded wrestling ability with just under 15-seconds left in the fight by impressively throwing Mir to the canvas.
Though it was too little, too late for the Las Vegas native as the end of the round and ultimately the fight itself drew to a close. Though it was a 10-9 round for “Big Country” on my score card, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to secure the “W” as Mir took home the well-earned unanimous decision victory, moving to 2-0 against Nelson as he closed out their interorganizational rivalry.
In defeat, Nelson moves to 1-5 during his Bellator tenure, having dropped his last four fights in a row to Mir, Filipovic, Sergei Kharitonov and Matt Mitrione, a virtual deaths row of heavyweight mixed martial arts killers. Picking up a much-needed victory Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Mir snapped his own four fight losing streak that saw Mir, himself, compete against some of the best in the business, including the legendary knockout artist Mark Hunt, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and the legendary mixed martial arts demi-god Fedor Emelianenko. Both Mir and Nelson are two of the best fighters in the business, with both fighters having multiple fight losing streaks that serve as perfect examples of how losing can actually mean winning in the game of life.