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Bellator MMA kicks off a massive weekend of fights with back-to-back events from the Mohegan Sun Event Center in Uncasville, Connecticut. Bellator 232 will happen Saturday night with the conclusion of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix tournament, headlined by Rory MacDonald defending his title against the man he took the title from, Douglas Lima. The night before, two legendary heavyweights, Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, step into the cage for the second time in the main event of Bellator 231. The two fought at UFC 130 back in May 2011, where Mir was awarded a unanimous decision victory.
Here is a deeper look into the main card fights for Bellator 231:
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson
The 40-year-old Mir returns to try to end his four-fight skid and get his hand raised for the first time in over four years. The troubled road started before then though, as he has only been victorious in 2 out of his last 10 appearances. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king needs to pick up a win if he wants to remain with even a smallest amount relevance in the division. A professional with an 18-13 record, he has been known as a submission specialist due to beating fighters like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Cheick Kongo, Brock Lesnar and Tim Sylvia via that method. However, he has greatly improved his striking over the years, as the southpaw has knockout wins over the aforementioned Nogueira, Mirko Fiipovic, Antonio Silva and Todd Duffee. Nevertheless, the 18-years of battle plus a horrible motorcycle accident have taken a toll on the Las Vegas native’s body. Mir appears to be slow and unable to sustain damage. His last fight against Javy Ayala was painful to watch as he looked a shell of his former self and was battered in the clinch.
Times haven’t been that good for Nelson, either, as he has only won 4 out of his last 14, including dropping four fights in a row. The former “Ultimate Fighter” winner stalks his foes but his hand speed has decreased significantly. The 43-year-old has legendary power in his overhand right but looks to throw it too often, making him very predictable. “Big Country” still has a very strong chin, only being stopped by Mark Hunt and Sergei Kharitonov in recent years. While he has shown an ability to take damage, Big Country’s defense is almost non-existent at this point. The former International Fight League champion simply ducks his head and tries to hide behind his forearms, leaving openings to be picked apart. The Las Vegas native looks for the clinch, where he can still do damage and will attempt to get a takedown. He was able to take down both Filipovic and Mitrione recently. Once on top, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will look to pass to a more dominant position to batter his adversary with ground strikes or look for a submission.
Bellator is hoping that the two legendary fighters’ name value will draw views from the casual fans in hopes to show off their undercard talent and promote the next evening’s Bellator 232 card. When the fans tune in, they will likely be disappointed in seeing these two favorites have lost many a step. If in their primes, I would be picking Mir to win, but is appears he has less tread left on his tires than Nelson. Big Country has been competitive in his fights with Mitrione and Filipovic and arguably won both scraps. His best days are behind him, but I expect to watch him march down the former UFC champion and eventually flatten him with a single punch.
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