by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
If there was any question about the level of talent that Roy Nelson would face in his first match-up following his victory on “The Ultimate Fighter Season 10,” look no further than six-foot-eleven-inch heavyweight Stefan Struve, who will oppose the reality show winner Wednesday night at UFC Fight Night 21 in Charlotte, N.C.
Given Nelson’s past experience, it’s not a surprise that he gets a much more seasoned opponent than other TUF winners, and to hear the Las Vegas fighter tell it, that’s exactly what he wanted.
“For myself, I was glad to get Stefan. He just beat Paul Buentello. He’s a guy that’s definitely right in the middle of the mix with the heavyweight division winning three out of four,” said Nelson on MMAWeekly Radio recently.
The former IFL and Affliction fighter has said that he’s been preparing for the nearly seven-foot Struve by having teammates sit on each other’s shoulders to try and get ready for the much taller fighter. He even put a call into a famous MMA fan, but didn’t get a response.
“I think that’s the only way you can imitate seven-foot,” Nelson said about his teammates teaming up to help him. “I called up Shaq, but Shaq didn’t answer. I had to go a whole other route, figured I’d fight a seven-foot-six-inch guy.”
On the feet, Nelson understands he’s at a statistical disadvantage with a lot of heavyweights that will be taller than he is, but maybe none more than Struve who is the tallest in the UFC. “The Ultimate Fighter” winner respects the reach his opponent has, but doesn’t believe it will be nearly the factor some are saying it will be.
“Somebody with that type of size and that reach it makes a big difference when you’re using a different type of technique, but the biggest one is we’re not boxing,” said Nelson. “If we were doing just straight boxing, then it’s something I’d worry about, but since we do this grappling thing it kind of eliminates some of this reach stuff.”
On the ground, Nelson has excelled in most of his fights, as he comes from a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Never one to overlook any opponent, Nelson also knows that Struve presents issues there as well, and is ready to deal with the long legs of the Dutch fighter.
“With Stefan you always have to worry about long triangles, long armbars, basically a guy who can body triangle a heavyweight. That’s scary in itself,” said Nelson.
He believes that a win over Struve puts him exactly where he wants to be, one step closer to an eventual title shot, but the fight on Wednesday night will be anything but a cakewalk.
“He’s good at everything. From the ground stuff to stand-up.”