Big Country made a big debut at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, CA. Facing Javy Ayala, who had a breakout victory in his last bout, a KO over Sergei Kharitonov at Bellator 163, Ayala was looking for another big scalp. Big Country? He was looking for a big knockout, as always.
Nelson had gone 2-2 in his previous four fights, all under the UFC banner, before jumping to Bellator MMA. Ayala, meanwhile, had won two straight, and was 5-2 in the promotion overall.
There was a solid chance that someone was hitting the floor in this fight. Who was the question.
Ayala opened with a high kick that missed, and moved in with a hard shot as Nelson covered up. Nelson whiffed on the return. Javy then landed a leg kick that seemed to hurt Nelson. Nelson continued to cover up while looking to counter; Ayala showed a more varied arsenal. Nelson began working his jab, and landed to the body. He would duck under a number of punches from Ayala, and decide to change levels and look for a takedown just past the midway mark of the round. Nelson would secure that, and Ayala was stuck up against the fence in a bad spot. Nelson peppered him with shots and looked to create some space, but Ayala showed he could do some damage, landing an elbow from the bottom. Nelson would look for a kimura, and while Ayala would escape he gave up full mount. Looking for an Americana, Nelson allowed Ayala to escape; Ayala would land a big knee on the way up, and they’d finish out the round.
The second round saw Ayala open with a heavy leg kick, and he began bringing the fight to Nelson. Nelson answered with a shot to the body, and landed another takedown. Ayala’s counter guillotine failed, and he was again in a bad spot. Nelson began looking for openings to land some big shots from the top. Ayala opted to give up his back to attempt to get back to his feet, and Nelson took the back and got hooks in. Javy managed to reverse, and get back up then take Nelson’s back! A big push kick to the face landed by Ayala, stunning Nelson. Yet moments later, he had shaken off the cobwebs and scored a couple of uppercuts, then grabbed Ayala and landed another takedown! He finished the round on top, landing some heavy elbows. Great bout so far, both these guys came to fight.
Ayala with a kick and jump knee attempt to open the third, while Nelson caught Ayala with a back fist. Nelson went high with a kick to the arm, which Ayala answered with a combo that sent Nelson into retreat mode. A couple of punches exchanged, and Nelson then landed a single leg, dumping Ayala with apparent ease! That was huge, as there was three minutes left in the round. Ayala attempted to push off the cage, while Nelson looked for an Americana again. Ayala would nearly escape, but Big Country was able to recover and keep him on his back. With a minute remaining, Nelson pinned the arm of Ayala with his knee and began landing some heavy shots from above, finishing strong in what would wind up a rare unanimous decision victory for the veteran heavyweight.
Roy Nelson def. Javy Ayala by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)