Roy Nelson sees his opponent at UFC 137 as an individual he respects but who he must also defeat to remain relevant in the UFC, let alone employed in the organization.

Nelson, who is coming off two straight defeats to Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, takes on Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic on the pay-per-view main card Saturday night in Las Vegas.

For the winner of The Ultimate Fighter, his career in the UFC has been up-and-down to say the least. Nelson defeated Brendan Schaub at TUF 10‘s finale, and followed up with a knockout of Stefan Struve. But, the two defeats to dos Santos and Mir have him on the edge of the ledge now.

“All fights are dire,” said Nelson, in a recent interview with MMAFighting. “I’ve seen guys get cut after one. I’ve seen guys lose three or four and still have a job. In this business, there’s no rhyme or reason. It’s MMA. It’s like when you go into the Octagon – Anything can happen.”

With “CroCop,” the man known as “Big County” knows he is stepping into the cage with a dangerous fighter. The risk, however, is not outweighed by the reward for Nelson.

“It’s so cliche, you know. You have to beat a legend to be a legend. But I think just to fight ‘Cro Cop,’ period, is something that, as a fighter, you just want to do,” Nelson said. “You want to be able to say, hey, I competed with some of the best of the world.”

Filipovic is also coming off of two straight losses, so the Nelson fight very well could be a loser-leaves-town match between the heavyweights.


MMATraining Take: As long as Nelson can avoid any heavy kicks by Mirko, his wrestling should allow him to pound out a three round decision. Of course, being the fighter he is, Nelson will likely try to knock the legend out, which could be a bad move.