The ‘go with what you know’ approach of Roy Nelson is by no means a bad strategy. It’s a fact that his overhand right is a lethal weapon capable of dropping just about anyone. Now that he has suffered a broken metacarpal from the bout-ending blow to Antonio Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 39, he may be forced to focus on his other talents while the bone heals.
The legendary big hitter has an impressive foundation to fall back on, including black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Shaolin kung fu.
Nelson sustained what’s known as a boxer’s fracture due to the arcing motion of his overhand right, which causes the bones to bend instead of compress. His hand may be rendered unusable for up to six weeks, which begs the questions as to what Big Country will be doing with himself. Nelson’s detractors will no doubt chime in with a barrage of snide comments about him spending the time eating cheeseburgers and gulping down cupcakes while his bludgeon is banged up.
Given his recent string of successful fights, it’s a safer bet that he will be developing other areas of his game, but the question remains as to exactly what.
Nelson has made good use of his left jab when setting up an opponent for the right hand bomb. He will no doubt be working this, perhaps developing hooking power and jab speed. His top position ground game has proven effective when he uses his significant weight, but practicing jiu-jitsu with a busted paw may be pushing it. His kung fu roots, however, provide are a rich legacy of leg maneuvers that have been effective for other fighters.
Seeing Nelson engage his next opponent with an Anderson Silva-like front kick to the face, a spinning side kick a la Joe Rogan or even a mule kick would certainly up his stock as a fan favorite. While he is delivering surprises, perhaps he will take some cues from John Jones – using his right arm to develop a deadly spinning elbow.
Whatever his plans, the broken hand is not curtains for Big Country — just a speed bump on a still-promising road.