A former International Fight League champion, Nelson tipped the scales at 252 for his showdown with Mitrione (257) in “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale headliner on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The wheels for their matchup were set in motion when the hulking Carwin sustained a knee injury while training in November.
Tristar Gym representative Mike Ricci (171) and the once-beaten Colton Smith (170), who will collide in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 welterweight final, also met their mandated weight requirements without incident at Friday’s official weigh-in.
Nelson last appeared at UFC 146 in May, when he needed less than a minute to level Dave Herman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The portly 36-year-old owns a 4-3 record inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, with high-profile wins over towering Dutchman Stefan Struve and 2006 Pride Fighting Championships open weight grand prix winner Mirko Filipovic. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, Nelson has secured 15 of his 17 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Mitrione has spent his entire six-fight career with the UFC. The 34-year-old Springfield, Ill., native has not fought since falling from the ranks of the unbeaten in a unanimous decision defeat to French kickboxer Cheick Kongo at UFC 137 in October 2011. A gifted athlete with nimble feet and heavy hands, Mitrione played defensive tackle at Purdue University and spent parts of six seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. He will have a three-inch height and nine-inch reach advantage against Nelson.
“The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale -- which airs live on the FX network at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT -- will also feature a heavyweight duel matching Pat Barry (238) with Shane del Rosario (244), a lightweight clash pitting Melvin Guillard (156) against former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner (156) and a featherweight tilt pairing American Top Team’s Dustin Poirier (146) with Jonathan Brookins (146). Two hours prior, Fuel TV will carry four preliminary bouts: Mike Pyle (171) vs. Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini (136) vs. Johnny Bedford (136), Rustam Khabilov (155) vs. Vinc Pichel (156) and T.J. Waldburger (170) vs. Nick Catone (171). The three remaining undercard fights will stream to the UFC’s Facebook page at 5:35 p.m. ET/2:35 p.m. PT, as Reuben Duran (136) meets Hugo Viana (135), John Cofer (156) faces Mike Rio (156) and Tim Elliott (126) battles former King of the Cage champion Jared Papazian (126).
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