At UFC 185, Roy “Big Country” Nelson returns to the octagon after his first UFC stoppage loss, which came against none other than the promotion’s other tough guy every man, the Super Samoan Mark Hunt. This time out, he meets the Demolition Man, Alistair Overeem.

Having been tagged and dropped by Hunt, and with just one win in his last four fights, rumblings — relatively low, at least for the time being — have begun about Nelson. Are his best days behind him? Well, at 38, probably. Did Mark Hunt wreck his chin?

Lets put a stop to that talk right there: in a word, no.

Nelson has taken more damage than anyone in the UFC, yet shown few signs of wear and tear. Continually walking forward into barrages of ferocious strikes against fighters like Junior Dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, and Stipe Miocic, Nelson’s eventual knockout loss to Hunt was just a matter of time. As he said afterwards, in the heavyweight division, anyone can get caught.

Yet consider this: not only was it his first KO/TKO loss in the UFC (Andre Arlovski holds the only other stoppage win over Nelson, back in Elite XC), he was back on his feet within moments, up almost as quickly as he went down. While it wasn’t a quick stoppage, nor a bad stoppage, it wasn’t a case of being beat senseless or not knowing where he was. It was simply a well timed, perfectly placed punch. From which he recovered remarkably fast.

Talk of weak chins, glass jaws, and fighter’s who need to retire sometimes comes a little too lightly. Take it from a writer who has penned such an article himself. There is a time and a place for such talk, but with a guy like Nelson, you must give him the benefit of the doubt. Remember, Andre Arlovski was once thought to be done as an elite level fighter, thanks to his supposedly weak chin, yet here he is, 2-0 in his current UFC run, and that’s after three knockout losses in four fights between 2009 and 2011. And this isn’t a Stefan Struve or Brendan Schaub situation, either. Nelson, so far, does not appear to be in any more danger than any other heavyweight in the division.

Realistically, Nelson’s opponent at UFC 185, Alistair Overeem, has more to be concerned about, chin-wise, than Big Country, having suffered far more actual knockouts over the span of his career. For whatever reason (some have suggested his thick neck, head position, forward momentum, or even just dumb luck), Nelson has always come out of his wars with his senses intact. Yet we’ve seen Overeem looking up at the lights dazed numerous times.

Could Overeem tag Nelson, as Hunt did, and dish out a second knockout loss in a row for Roy? Of course. And then the rumblings will grow louder. Even then, however, he should get the benefit of the doubt. Nelson still remains the most durable of fighters in the heavyweight division. He’s earned the opportunity to prove that, at least a few more times.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.