Roy Nelson knows he got a tough draw in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
As excited as he was to be a part of a tournament that feels like a throwback to the days of PRIDE Fighting Championships, Nelson imagined that Bellator might mix things up a little bit more rather than having two of the best fighters face off in the opening round.
Instead, Bellator opted to match up Nelson against Matt Mitrione while the other two legitimate heavyweights in the tournament — Frank Mir and Fedor Emelianenko — are also set to square off when they meet later this year.
Of course, Nelson ultimately didn’t really mind who he fought and when it comes to Mitrione that’s a matchup he understands all too well. See Nelson knocked out Mitrione when they were both fighting under the UFC umbrella and while he’s quite sure they’ve both evolved, he expects the result to stay the same.
“He’s gotten better. The thing is I think if you’re a competitive fighter, you’re always trying to get better and better so I’m hoping he got better. From the looks of things and his wins, he looks better but I know I’m better and that’s all that matters,” Nelson told MMAWeekly.
“I think my advantage with any fight, especially with Matt, is I’m just a better fighter. I know I have more tools in the tool belt. Him having a longer reach, like I know he’s going to have a longer reach but I have more tools. I know what jiu-jitsu is. I know how to box. I know how to wrestle. I know how to do all the things that make me Roy Nelson. And then I do have a little thing called power.”
Nelson certainly has plenty of pop behind his punches, which is how he finished Mitrione the first time around. Of course, Nelson’s biggest memory from that fight isn’t the knockout but instead the personal circumstances that were surrounding that night.
“I think the biggest memory from that fight was it was the first one after my son was born. I didn’t have that much sleep and I wanted to get done so I could come home and have time with my kid,” Nelson said.
He definitely got the job done quickly as Nelson knocked out Mitrione at just under three minutes into the first round.
Nelson can’t predict if the same thing will play out in the rematch on Friday night at Bellator 194 but he can guarantee that he’s going to put on the best performance possible to ensure he punches his ticket to the next round of the heavyweight grand prix.
“I’m going to be the best Roy Nelson out there. I’m going to talk in the third person and go out there and say ‘Big Country’ is going to beat him up,” Nelson said. “I think any main event fighter if they do what they’re supposed to do, they’ll win. The only way I lose is if I beat myself.
“That’s how I feel like every fight that I’ve ever lost is because I know I made a mistake somewhere.”