On the precipice of his own fight at UFC 130, former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Roy Nelson took some time recently to give his thoughts on the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, which picks up steam again on June 18 in Texas.
The next round of the tournament features two quarterfinal fights, including Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem against Fabricio Werdum, and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett as he faces Brett Rogers.
Nelson, who was himself a part of the IFL Heavyweight Grand Prix a few years back, loves the tournament format because it truly does determine who is the best fighter.
“I love Grand Prix’s just for the fact that it takes a lot of politics out and the best man just wins,” Nelson told MMAWeekly Radio.
Looking at this tournament, Nelson does seen one major glaring problem however. He thinks Strikeforce set up one side of the bracket with all the talent, leaving very little competition to come from the other side.
“What I don’t like about the Strikeforce Grand Prix was the left side of the bracket was pretty much all the tough guys, the other side’s not as strong as the other four,” Nelson said. “Like (Josh) Barnett fighting Brett Rogers, and (Andrei) Arlovski fighting Sergei (Kharitonov), that bracket over there is not as strong as (Fabricio) Werdum, Fedor, Overeem, and (Antonio) Giant Silva.”
When breaking down the right side of the bracket, Nelson doesn’t believe anyone, including Barnett, has a great shot of winning the tournament when it’s all said and done.
There is a readily available game plan to beat all of those fighters Nelson says, and when they run into the talent from the other side of the bracket, the final match may end dramatically.
“Sergei all you’ve got to do is put him on his back. I was in the corner when Jeff Monson beat him, that’s how I told Jeff to beat Sergei and he choked him out. Same thing with Rogers, put him on his back. Same thing with Overeem, you’ve just got to take his knees and his kicks and his punches away, so put him on his back. That’s what Werdum wants to do,” Nelson stated.
With Sergei Kharitonov already advancing and Barnett facing Rogers on June 18, Nelson already sees a pretty clear cut version of who escapes that bracket.
“Barnett will probably win the whole thing on the right side,” Nelson said.
The UFC heavyweight believes of all the fighters remaining in the tournament Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva may actually be the most well rounded, but still thinks if you put the Brazilian on his back he may end up like a fish out of water as well.
In the end, while Nelson doesn’t pick a clear cut winner in the upcoming fight between Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, he does think that whoever ends up in the finals from that side of the bracket will beat Josh Barnett.
“Whoever wins on the left is going to win the whole thing,” said Nelson.
As the next round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix kicks off, Nelson will keep an eye out to see if his predictions start to come true.
Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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