Four heavyweights go at it in the cage on Saturday night at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in Las Vegas. Matt Mitrione takes on former TUF 10 teammate Roy Nelson and Pat Barry takes on prospect Shane Del Rosario. Of these four men, only two really seem to have the potential to make any difference in the UFC heavyweight division. Not surprisingly, one of those two is Nelson.

Nelson is coming off his coaching stint on TUF 16 and while he is only 4-3 in the UFC, Nelson has faced difficult top opponents since his TUF days. Nelson is a tough fighter to beat, what with his strong chin, knockout power and jiu-jitsu ability, and he hasn’t been finished since October of 2008 against Andrei Arlovski.

While Arlovski knocked him out, Nelson stood toe-to-toe with current champion Junior dos Santos and rode out that fight to a decision. Nelson has also been able to secure victories over human skyscraper Stefan Struve and also against legendary kickboxer-turned-MMA-fighter Mirko Cro Cop. With a win over Mitrione on the TUF Finale card, Nelson could be staring at another date with yet another top opponent.

Nelson has the ability to withstand anybody, proven by his ability to last to decisions against dos Santos, Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum. His chin, combined with the ability to knockout just about anybody, gives him the scary chance of ending a fight just like that. When a guy can take every punch you throw at him and you’re going three rounds with him, you better be afraid of that flash knockout ability.

Beyond Nelson, the other heavyweight on this card that can make a splash is Shane Del Rosario.

Del Rosario came over from Strikeforce as an undefeated heavyweight prospect. Although he lost his first fight by TKO to Stipe Miocic, the kickboxing/Muay Thai specialist has some deadly striking that, much like Nelson, makes him a threat.

Now with his Octagon debut behind him, Del Rosario should be more loose and less nervous. He showed promise in the first round against Miocic, but his takedown defense proved the biggest flaw when in the second round Miocic easily took him down and utilized his ground-and-pound to end the fight.

Del Rosario needs to work on his ground game more to be able to make this splash, but for a guy at age 29 it shouldn’t be too long before his ground game becomes par for the division. Del Rosario might not have to worry about the ground though if he can just keep the fight standing.

Del Rosario and Nelson have a big things ahead of them, should they pick up wins on this card. Out of the four big men, these two have what it takes to make an impact in the division.

Photo: Shane Del Rosario (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.