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'Big Country' becomes TUF

Cageside by Anthony Springer
Photo courtesy of Josh Hedges,

As the most experienced fighter entering the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Las Vegas fighter Roy “Big Country” Nelson was the odds on favorite to not only reach the finale, but win the entire competition. On the surface, Nelson looks like anything but a mixed martial artist. At 263 pounds, Nelson’s build is better suited for that of one who fights in bars for a living, not in a cage.

In an embrace of his portly frame, Nelson strolled to the Octagon to the tune of “Fat” by Weird Al Yankovic. Clearly the jokester outside the ring, it was all business when the bell sounded. Nelson needed less than four minutes to turn the lights out on co-finalist Brendan Schaub, becoming this season’s Ultimate Fighter by way of knockout.

Schaub came out on the offensive, catching Nelson with rights and lefts that sent “Big Country” spiraling back into the cage. Nelson was able to get Schaub to the mat, but unable to finish the fight on the floor as Schaub escaped and got the fight standing again.

With superior reach, it seemed only a matter of time before Schaub—who got the better of 99.9% of the standup exchanges—had his hand raised in victory.

With a little more than two minutes left in the opening frame, Nelson unleashed a massive overhand right that caught Schaub behind the ear. Three blows later—Nelson hit Schaub, Schaub hit the floor, Nelson followed with another right hand—and the man known as “Big Country” was crowned the newest Ultimate Fighter.

The bout was officially halted at 3:42 in the first round.

Despite three lackluster performances on The Ultimate Fighter, Nelson says there’s a huge difference between fighting on the show and fighting on a main card.

"When you fight in front of a crowd, it's a way bigger difference than actually fighting in front of about 22 people," Nelson said of the differences.

"When you're fighting in the house, it's actually kind of more of a sparring match. When you're fighting in front of a crowd, you feel the roar. You feel the pump. You're going to go out there and give it 120 percent, especially in front of a live crowd. That's the entertainment value. When you're in the house, because it's a tournament format, you have to just get the win to get where we are today."

Slice wins lackluster decision over Alexander

In a bout that resembled an episode of “Dancing With the Stars,” Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson defeated Houston Alexander via unanimous decision.

In the days leading up to the highly anticipated bout, both men vowed to get the knock out or be knocked out. As it turned out, the backyard brawler did little brawling and “The Assassin” either couldn’t pull the trigger or loaded up with blanks.

The opening frame literally saw Alexander circle the ring with Slice watching for the majority of the allotted time. Slice wowed the crowd with a takedown in the first two frames, and an attempted rear naked choke in round two.

Both men entered the final frame visibly exhausted, but that didn’t stop the oooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd when the men connected. Slice’s verbal proddings were not enough to get “The Assassin” to engage in a fire fight, and the bout ended without the theatrics many inside The Pearl at the Palms Hotel and Casino expected.

The judges scored the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for Slice.

Jones DQ’d for illegal hit

In the night’s co-main event, Jon “Bones” Jones found himself on the losing end after an illegal elbow to the eye of Matt Hammil. The blow resulted in referee Steve Mazagatti disqualifying Jones.

Up until the stoppage, Jones picked his larger, slower opponent apart, using his superior reach to keep Hammil from closing the distance.

When Hammil was able to get a hold of Jones, the New Jersey native found himself on the mat courtesy of a Jones throw. Jones would later advance to the full mount and reigh down a series of punches and forearms.

The resilient Hammil refused to quit despite his position and was awarded the bout after Jones brought a straight elbow down onto his face. Mazzagatti immediately halted the bout and disqualified Jones.

Hammil dislocated his shoulder during the fight.

With the win, Hammil moves to 9-2; Jones is now 8-1.

Mitrione puts “Big Baby” to sleep.

Despite having no love for fellow cast member Matt Mitrione, bad blood wasn’t hardly enough to keep Marcus Jones from getting a close up of the canvas. In the battle of the former NFL standouts, Mitrione finished “Big Baby” with a big knockout, ten seconds into round two.

Mitrione weathered the early storm as Jones got an immediate takedown and advanced to side control. Later in the round, Mitrione escaped a guillotine choke and an attempted arm lock. Five minutes in, Jones appeared visibly tired as he went to his corner to prep for the second.

Jones attempted a quick start in the second stanza, but the bulrush proved to be his undoing. Mitrone unleashed a straight right hand on a charging Jones who went crashing to the mat. One more straight right on the way down, and a blow on the mat were all Mitrione needed to separate Jones from consciousness.

“He was a lot stronger than I expected,” said Mitrione, who made his professional debut at the finale.

Edgar has “The Answer” for Veach.

Technique got the better sheer brutality as Matt Veach had no answers for Frankie Edgar, falling to a rear naked choke at 2:22 in the second round.

From the outset, it looked as though Veach was on his way to becoming the 155-pound division’s next big thing, wowing the crowd at The Pearl with three big slams. The showmanship may have taken more out of Veach than it did his opponent, as the brawler began breathing heavily from the mouth after the show of strength.

After giving up the first, Edgar came out more comfortable in the second, peppering Veach with counter punches and leg kicks. A counter right caught Veach square in the jaw. The blow was enough to send Veach reeling and Edgar charging. Referee Herb Dean was more than gracious in allowing Veach to regain his composure amid a flurry of Edgar punches.

However, as most mixed martial artists and fans know, giving up one’s back is not a defensive move. Edgar wasted no time sinking in the rear naked choke, forcing his up and coming opponent to tap.

With the win, Edgar moves to 11-1.

TUF Undercard results.

Mark Bocek defeated UFC newcomer Jason Brammer via standing rear naked choke at 3:36 in round one.

In a thrilling finish, John “Doomsday” Howard knocked out Dennis “Superman” Hallman with five seconds left in the final round.

Brian Stann continued his winning ways, topping Rodney Wallace by unanimous decision.

Jon Madsen narrowly defeated fellow TUF 10 cast member Justin Wren. The bout went to the judges and Madsen got the split decision win.

James McSweeney overwhelmed Darrill Schoonover, defeating fellow Team Rashad member by TKO at 3:20 in the final frame.


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