Josh Gross
Saturday May 17th, 2008

Roy Nelson might not look the part, but one gets the sense watching the Buddha-bellied heavyweight from Las Vegas, he's not trying to.

International Fight League heavyweight champion "Big Country" Nelson joined lightweight titleholder Ryan Schultz in retaining their respective belts Friday evening in front of 4,530 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Middleweight champion Ryan McGivern was not so fortunate, losing his title to submission specialist Dan Miller.

Trading jabs with 6-foot-7, 250-pound challenger Brad Imes, Nelson intended to stand and strike during his second title defense. Underneath a stomach that in some nations would suggest considerable wealth, the 264-pound Nelson's surprising agility opened proper angles and distance to connect with chin-targeted right hands.

"Brad's one of those guys that keeps coming and coming and coming, even if he's hurt," Nelson, 31, said after the finish, which came at 2:55 of the first round with a blistering right straight. "So the game plan was simple: Establish where I was going to be dominant at, which I felt was the striking."

An early overhand right set the tone when Imes (11-5), competing on two week's notice, stumbled around the ring after taking one on the temple. The challenger's tenacity was the only reason he remained standing in the opening 90 seconds. Success led Nelson (13-2) to feel increasingly comfortable while launching right-hand salvos.

The fight-ending shot, which completed a three-punch combination, forced referee Dan Miragliotta to protect the defeated 31-year-old Imes.

Lightweights Ryan "The Lion" Schultz and Deividas Taurosevicius waged a high-paced, technical 155-pound title fight. Proving to be dangerous in the first half of the 20-minute fight, Lithuania's Taurosevicius slowed in the championship rounds.

Offering quality defense to start the fight, kicks and punches glanced off both men in the first four-minute frame. Taurosevicius made sure it wouldn't be a defensive battle, though, connecting on consecutive right hooks that bounced off the champion's head.

Schultz, 30, came on in Round 2 after a calm diffusing of an armbar-triangle combination from the Renzo Gracie-trained Eastern European. Taurosevicius performed well, but his best opportunities to win repeatedly fell short.

By the third, when Schultz opened with a power double-leg that slammed Taurosevicius (9-3) to the bottom of side-control, the Team Quest-trained Lion fought as if he knew his challenger had already offered all he could muster.

"I knew I was stronger," Schultz, now 20-9-1, said afterward.

Taurosevicius threatened again in the fourth with an armbar from the guard. Biding his time, Schultz freed himself by lifting and slamming out of the submission.

"We don't get credit for our jiu-jitsu," Schultz said of Team Quest, his wrestler-populated gym in Gresham, Ore. "But I'm pretty good with submissions and submission defense."

A right hand to Taurosevicius's face was buttressed by the champion's slick pass to mount. Tossing the Lithuanian's legs underneath him while leap-frogging onto the challenger's ripped midsection, Schultz secured the round by taking back-control.

Sensing the moment was slipping from Taurosevicius's grasp, his corner called for a knockout heading into the fifth -- though the final judges' tallies suggest he may not have needed one. But with Schultz dominating the final period thanks to a solid work rate that resulted in the champion landing 75 of 111 punches in the fight, judges scored it 48-47 across the board.

In just his second IFL fight, Dan Miller captured the promotion's middleweight belt by hyperextending McGivern's right knee at 3:36 of the opening round.

Fighting out of Sparta, N.J., Miller countered McGivern's push-the-pace style by out-working him in the clinch. Soon, the Bettendorf, Iowa-based defending champion had to fight from the bottom.

"I knew once it hit the ground it was my advantage," Miller (8-1, 1 NC) said after the fight.

Soon, so did anyone else who took the time to watch the bout.

As the middleweights exchanged positions and submissions, Miller attacked a leg by driving his hips into the knee joint. Facing the floor, Miller managed to apply enough pressure to force McGivern (12-6) into tapping from a kneebar for the second time against a Renzo Gracie-trained fighter.

The evening's other televised action saw Mike Massenzio, listed last week among SI.com's top 10 up-and-comers, go down to defeat against Danillo Villefort. The middleweight fight closed when Villefort locked in a tight kneebar at 3:44 of round one.

Lightweight Josh Souder needed a mere 47 seconds to finish Zac George with strikes.

Former IFL middleweight champion Matt Horwich returned to action for the first time since losing the belt to Ryan McGivern. Needing the judges, Horwich sealed a unanimous decision with a controlling effort over his former training partner.

• John Howard put away fellow welterweight Nick Calandrino with strikes at 2:24 of the third period.

Light heavyweight Aaron Stark out-pointed Lamont Lister en route to a unanimous decision victory.

John Franchi used a rear-naked choke at 2:19 of round one to stop Frank Latina in a lightweight contest.

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