Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Count Roy Nelson as one of the least surprised people to hear about Brock Lesnar having to miss his scheduled fight against Junior dos Santos at UFC 131.
Although Nelson didn’t expect a re-emergence of diverticulitis to force the cancellation — and wished Lesnar the best in recovery — he predicted Shane Carwin would ultimately fight in the place of Lesnar months ago. Nelson even shared the prophecy with UFC 130 opponent Frank Mir.
“I’m like the Nostradamus of MMA right now,” Nelson said. “I’m pretty good at dictating what’s going to happen.”
Nelson would like to think his propensity for accurate foresight extends to his own career. Heading into this weekend’s co-main event scrap against Mir, Nelson already has a rough outline for the next year of his career.
Nelson, who is coming off a UFC 117 loss to dos Santos, said he thought he needed to get by Mir and at most one other opponent before receiving a shot for the UFC heavyweight belt.
The winner of dos Santos vs. Carwin in two weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia, receives the next fight against current champion Cain Velasquez. Nelson is planning to face the winner of that bout.
“I’ve got JDS over Carwin and then I’d like to say JDS over Velasquez,” Nelson said. “Then, hopefully me and JDS two for the belt.”
The only gray area in Nelson’s vision is whom he will face in between Mir and his desired championship match. Nelson said he previously hoped to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 134 in August.
“I told (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva when I got the call for Frank, ‘OK, schedule me for August, too. I’m already planning my days out,” Nelson said.
But that’s no longer a possibility. Brendan Schaub, who finished as the runner-up to Nelson in the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” has agreed to fight Nogueira on the card in Rio de Janeiro.
“Now, I have no idea who I will fight next,” Nelson said. “I just know I need to get out there and fight because I’ve been out for 10 months.”
Nelson isn’t used to waiting this long in between bouts. As recently as 2007, he fought six times per year.
But he said he had used the downtime to his advantage and that the defeat to dos Santos motivated him to work harder than ever before. His training partners have also seen a difference.
“His physique is very misleading and doesn’t necessarily show it, but as a training partner I can tell he’s in the best shape and stronger than ever,” said R.J. Richter. “I’ve trained with him for two years and his leverage, when he gets a hold of me, I can just tell he’s gotten stronger over the last eight months.”
Although Nelson stopped short of saying the loss re-focused him, he did admit it made him think about the direction of his career. By crafting a map in his mind of what’s on the horizon, Nelson has looked further ahead than most fighters are willing to.
As much as Mir wants to take the championship belt for the third time in his career, he said he didn’t allow himself to think in-depth about what all he needed to do to get it.
“My long term goal is Roy,” Mir said. “That’s as far as I think ahead to the next matchup — too many injuries happen, guys get cut, fights get matched up that I didn’t expect.”
Mir said he knew Nelson had a different outlook on things and didn’t take it as a sign of disrespect. If he’s going to call himself Nostradamus, after all, Nelson has got to live up to the name.
“I like to say I’ll fight him, him and him and then I’ll fight for the belt,” Nelson said. “I like my career to be that way.”