UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson fully anticipated his originally-scheduled opponent, Shane Carwin, to pull out of their Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale main event, the fighter said on Monday.
Before agreeing to face Matt Mitrione in place of Carwin, Nelson and his camp were convinced the fight would get scraped and they would be forced to train for a different fighter for the Dec. 15 main event in Las Vegas.
“I figured Shane was probably going to pull out of the fight. This is not the first time he’s done it,” Nelson said today on a media call. “I just didn’t know when or where that was actually going to happen.”
Indication to Nelson and his associates that his opponent would withdraw from the fight came during Carwin’s recent appearance on AXS TV’s Inside MMA show, according to Nelson’s manager, Mike Kogan.
“He started hinting, ‘oh, my knee hurts,’ and that kind of gave us the early indication that this dude might just pull out,” Kogan told Graciemag.com on Monday afternoon. “That gave us the initial indication that Shane Carwin isn’t coming through on this fight.”
Kogan went on to say that fighters have injuries all the time, and it’s not common practice to make those injuries public. Airing out what hampers a fighter is the same as inviting an opponent to hit you right where it hurts, the manager said.
In terms of his new opponent, Mitrione, Nelson said that preparation for the fight is far different because of the change in opposition. He pointed to the fact that one fighter fights left-handed while the other right-handed as a glaring contrast in his preparation for the finale.
Nelson also compared his future opponent to that of another UFC heavyweight, saying he’s getting the “white version” of top-ranked contender Alistair Overeem. Preparation for a fight with someone of that caliber leaves one to assume Nelson sees Mitrione as a heavy-handed striker that can finish a fight quickly.
The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale takes place this Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
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