Roy Nelson will get a potential second shot at the Bellator World Heavyweight Tournament when he faces Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in the Bellator 200 headliner. Bellator 200 takes place on Friday, May 25, at SSE Arena, Wembley in London.
Nelson faced Matt Mitrione in the opening round of the tournament, losing a majority decision to him in the Bellator 194 main event. He’ll now get the opportunity to potentially fight his way back into the tournament if any of the other competitors is injured.
“That will be for the first alternate spot,” Coker said at Thursday’s Bellator 198 pre-fight press conference in Chicago. “Whoever wins will be the alternate for the tournament in case somebody gets injured.”
Nelson (23-15) is coming off of the loss Mitrione heading into the Bellator 200 headliner.
Nelson had spent the past few years fighting for the UFC after winning Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. Though he was a constant threat in the heavyweight division and a fan favorite, he could never quite work his way into a challenge for the UFC heavyweight belt. Nelson made the move to Bellator last year.
Cro Cop (36-11-2, 1NC) rose to prominence fighting in Japan, winning the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix before eventually making three tours through the UFC. Following a win over Gabriel Gonzaga to kick off his last stop with UFC in 2015, Cro Cop had been scheduled to then fight Anthony Hamilton, but abruptly retired amidst an anti-doping violation allegation. He later admitted to having taken human growth hormone.
Cro Cop returned a year and a half later to fight for Rizin FF, laying out his latest plan for retirement. He has since gone 5-0 fighting for the Japan-based organization and has won his eight most recent bouts heading into his Bellator debut.
Cro Cop will be looking to avenge a loss to Nelson from nearly seven years ago. Nelson won their first meeting at UFC 137 via a TKO stoppage and sent Cro Cop packing.
Mitrione has been joined in the semi-final round of the Bellator World Heavyweight Tournament by Chael Sonnen, who defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the tournament’s quarterfinal round. Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir square off in the Bellator 198 headliner to claim one of the two remaining semifinal slots. The final semifinal birth will be claimed by the winner of the Bellator 199 main event bout between current light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.