Antonio Silva Debuts With UFC in May, Meets Roy Nelson at UFC 146

Roy Nelson (James Law/HeavyMMA)

Heavyweights scheduled for May 26 fight in Las Vegas

Heavyweights, indeed. A bout between two famously big men has been added to the UFC’s Memorial Day weekend card in Las Vegas.

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Roy “Big Country” Nelson have agreed to fight on the May 26 card in Nelson’s home city. UFC officials announced the fight booking on Wednesday.

UFC 146 will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and features a main event heavyweight title fight between champion Junior dos Santos and top contender Alistair Overeem, the former Strikeforce heavyweight champ.

Silva (16-3) will be making his UFC debut after a five-fight run in Strikeforce, where he went 3-2. Most notably, Silva stopped the legendary Fedor Emelianenko last February in the opening round of Strikeforce’s heavyweight grand prix tournament, earning a doctor’s stoppage after two rounds in one of the year’s biggest upsets. That win was the third straight for “Bigfoot” in the promotion after wins over former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski and a Mike Kyle.

But in the semifinals of the heavyweight tournament in September, Silva faced alternate Daniel Cormier, who was stepping in for Overeem. In the first round, Cormier dropped Silva, who had a big height and reach advantage, and finished him with strikes on the ground. In January, Silva announced that he had signed a contract with the UFC, which had slowly been bringing over Strikeforce’s heavyweight fighters in anticipation of dissolving the weight class in that promotion.

Nelson (16-7, 3-3 UFC) has had a rough go of it since starting his UFC career 2-0, including a knockout win over Brendan Schaub to win Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” After a second straight Knockout of the Night bonus for a 39-second stoppage of Stefan Struve in March 2010, Nelson has lost three of his last four fights and has faced a steady stream of criticism from UFC president Dana White over his weight. It’s criticism that Nelson perhaps took to heart earlier this month, when he announced that if he got to 100,000 “likes” on his Facebook fan page, he would make the drop to 205 pounds. Nelson was 246 for his last fight. But he apparently will get a reprieve from making that drop for now thanks to the Silva fight booking.

At UFC 143 in February, Nelson lost a Fight of the Night unanimous decision to Fabricio Werdum that left him battered and bloodied – but unable to be finished. That erased the knockout win he had over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 137 last October that had him back in the win column after back-to-back losses to dos Santos and Frank Mir.

Along with the main event heavyweight title fight, UFC 146 features a heavyweight top contenders bout between former champs Mir and Cain Velasquez, a middleweight bout between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and C.B. Dollaway; a welterweight bout between Dan Hardy and Duane Ludwig; lightweight fights between Paul Sass and Jacob Volkmann and Edson Barboza and Evan Dunham; and a heavyweight bout between Gabriel Gonzaga and Shane del Rosario.


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