UFC Fight Night 52: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson Preview
The UFC returns to Japan for a Fight Pass event headlined by Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. With it comes that eternal question for the serious MMA fan: stay up all night or wake up at an ungodly early hour? The serious degenerate should have no problem with the 12:30 a.m. ET prelim start. It’s the 3 a.m. main card start that brings the problems. Conservatively assuming a three-hour broadcast,* you have a card that most likely finishes around 6 a.m. So, enjoy your messed up sleep schedule, MMA weirdos.
* – Let’s hope that Hunt/Nelson doesn’t need the full five rounds.
BATTLE OF THE KAIJU
Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson embodies a lot of what made Japanese MMA during the kakutogi boom: two big fat guys with big fat personalities who will likely put together a big fat fun fight.
Nelson’s entire UFC run centers around one question: can he knock you out? If he can, he wins. If he can’t, he loses. So far, that question has been answered by the quality of his opposition. Career journeyman (Kongo, Herman)? Old, aging vet (Cro Cop, Nogueira)? Young and/or green fighter (Struve, Mitrione, Schaub)? Nelson’s had your number. One of the division’s elite (dos Santos, Werdum, Cormier)? Nelson can’t keep up and loses and decision.
The exceptions have been Stipe Miocic and Frank Mir. I’ve never viewed Mir as an elite heavyweight, thought that may be my own biases. Miocic was coming off a TKO loss to Stefan Struve, and he was fighting in his 11th pro fight. Wins over Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Fabio Maldonado (snicker) have put him into the top five in a rather weak UFC heavyweight division.
Hunt’s not an elite heavyweight, either. In fact, four years ago this month, Sean McCorkle (remember him?) submitted Hunt into his sixth consecutive loss in MMA to go along with a 5-7 pro MMA record. He bounced back with four straight wins over Chris Tuchsherer, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, and Stefan Struve before dropping a fight to Junior dos Santos and drawing against Antonio Silva (the latter of which the UFC later overturned into a no contest).
That said, Hunt presents something of a nightmare matchup for Roy Nelson: he’s a better kickboxer than Nelson with an iron chin. Sure, Nelson has a better BJJ pedigree, but my Untethered MMA co-host Patrick Wyman has been quick to remind people that Nelson hasn’t completed a takedown in over three years. It’s an MMA fight, which means all sorts of weird things can happen, and a fight ending up on the floor is one of the least weird things that could happen. But judging by the tendencies of both fighters in recent fights, it’s likely to stay standing where Hunt will have the edge.
THE FIREBALL OLD MAN
The UFC, of course, scheduled Takanori Gomi for Japan as they have for their two previous Japan shows. This time, instead of scheduling him against a fellow Japanese fighter (Eiji Mitsuoaka) or old UFC name (Diego Sanchez), the UFC matched him up with up-and-coming prospect Myles Jury.
If we’re being honest (and I assure you, dear reader, I’m always honest with you), I couldn’t pick out Myles Jury in a lineup. I know I’ve seen him fight, and I know he’s someone to watch out for (undefeated 25 year old, currently ranked 9th in the UFC? Uh yeah), but, yeah, dude could be picking apples next to me at the grocery store and I’d have no idea. Hell, guy could say, “Hey there, I’m Myles Jury,” and it’d probably take me a second to place the name.
And while I understand the logic of feeding a name vet like Gomi to an up-and-comer like Jury, I’m not sure I understand the logic of feeding a name vet like Gomi to an up-and-comer like Jury in Japan. That’s not to say Gomi’s a guy that needs protecting – he’s 35 and has been on the downside of his career for seven years. But how does Jury benefit from beating a guy like Gomi at four in the morning for the American audience? Then there’s the double negative of booking Gomi in a tough fight against a guy I assume most people in Japan do not know.
THE RETURNS OF SEXYAMA AND SEXYDOLLAH
Yoshihiro Akiyama and Amir Sadollah make their returns against one another on Saturday. Sadollah hasn’t fought since a loss to Dan Hardy in September of 2012, while Akiyama’s been out since a loss to Jake Shields in Japan in February of 2012. That’s a combined 1658 days out of action. For reference, 1658 days from now would be April 3, 2019.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.