Roy Nelson looked in better shape than we’ve seen him in the past for his fight at UFC 137 and he showed both good hands and good ground skills in the Octagon as he sent legendary fighter Mirko Cro Cop into retirement with a third round stoppage.
Nelson looked to press forward from the start, but was largely foiled by Cro Cop’s footwork which kept him out of harms way.
The TUF winner then changed things up by taking the Croatian down and working a little ground and pound before Cro Cop got back to his feet.
Cro Cop then snapped out a powerful straight left and managed to draw blood from the face of Nelson. Before long Nelson responded though with a big right hand that appeared to hurt Cro Copm but he then immediately fired back with strikes of his own. As the round drew to a conclusion Cro Cop also landed a very nice uppercut, but Nelson ate it and appeared unphased.
Onto round two and Nelson quickly had Cro Cop’s legs buckling with a big right hand, but again the Croatian indicated that he was willing to go out on his shield by wading back in with his own strikes and found success almost immediately, hurting Nelson who was then forced to retreat into his defensive shell as an onslaught of hook and uppercuts came his way.
When Nelson finally emerged his face was bloodied, but he was still pressing forward. The crowd erupted when Cro Cop fired off his legendary left head kick, but the granite chinned Nelson shrugged it off.
A little later Nelson managed to utilize a trip to take Cro Cop down and got to side control before working his way into his favored crucifix position. From there he began to rain down punches of his own as Cro Cop tried in vain to buck free and move his head out of the firing range until the bell mercifully sounded 40 seconds later.
There was still all to play for in the final round and both men come out in determined fashion.
A powerful right hand from Nelson staggered Cro Cop for the third time in the fight but he was still standing. Not for long though as a combination from Nelson then sent him toppling onto his stomach on the mat.
Nelson quickly took his back and sensing victory was within reach began delivering powerful blows to his head and it was not long before the referee rushed in to save the veteran from further punishment.
Good win for Nelson, but also a more spirited and exciting performance from Cro Cop than we’ve seen in many of his recent fights so perhaps not the worst time to call time on his memorable career.