Frank Mir approached his rematch with Roy Nelson at Bellator 231 with a crafty game plan, attacking Big Country’s lead leg from the get-go.
Friday night’s Bellator 231 was headlined by a fight many MMA fans would have preferred five or six years ago in the UFC. A rematch between Roy Nelson and Frank Mir, once two of the most popular heavyweights in the world. While much of their fanbase remains, the pair were on a significant skid heading into Friday night — enough so that Bellator CEO Scott Coker had painted their meeting as a “loser leaves town” match-up.
Nelson offers knockout power few can match, but has struggled in Bellator, going 1-3 since joining the promotion. And while a couple of those losses could have gone the other way (Mitrione, Cro-Cop), a three-fight skid is a three-fight skid.
For Frank Mir, things were actually looking worse. While most concede that Nelson can still hang with the top heavyweights — at the very least, he’s not being knocked out by them — Mir had not won a fight since 2015, had lost four straight, and was finished in the last three of those. In the middle of that skid, he also sat out a couple of years thanks to a USADA suspension that ended his career with the UFC.
Careers were on the line Friday. At least as far as Bellator was concerned.
Nelson backed Mir up early, using his jab and position to try to force him into his right hand. Mir found some success with his inside leg kicks, while Nelson put a combo together. ‘Big Country’ went to the body a couple of times, but Mir’s kicks were having an impact. Nelson would fire a crushing right hand, but it was off the mark. Mir, meanwhile, fired a spinning kick, and touched Nelson with a left. Nelson would land a left, and a glancing uppercut at round’s end, while Mir was looking at the clock.
Round two saw Mir fire a high kick just seconds in. That was blocked, and the pair traded. Nelson’s right hand went sailing by Mir’s head again. A second right would land, but not clean. A left landed for Nelson, who then complained of a low blow. In a clinch, Nelson landed body shots, while Mir landed a knee. The inside leg kick followed tripping Nelson up. In a veteran move, he made sure to have both hands planted to keep himself grounded, then backed off to regroup. Mir, however, was ahead in the fight. Nelson would land an uppercut, but Mir would answer back with another crippling leg kick. Nelson was nearly taken off his feet again. He’d finally back Mir up against the fence, but couldn’t land clean, and wind up reversed.
The third and final round had Roy Nelson down and needing a finish. He again found a way inside on Mir, but couldn’t land anything solid — though a cut did open up under Mir’s eye. Nelson then fired a leg kick, but in the next exchange, Mir’s kick landed low. As in below the belt. A leg kick spot on when they restarted, again taking Nelson out of position. Roy landed a right, but Mir shook it off. The rest of the round was Nelson walking down Mir, landing a couple of times, then scoring a late takedown. But while he won the round, he didn’t win the fight.
Official Result: Frank Mir def. Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)