Roy Nelson: “I Could Probably Lose and Still Get a Title Shot”

April 26, 2013
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Roy Nelson at the TUF 16 FinaleUFC heavyweight Roy Nelson has become a bastion for the overweight bearded man since winning the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.

Known for his propensity to pick up a box of donuts over a vial of TRT, “Big Country” has long been a fan-favorite.

Occasionally Nelson is mislabeled a journeyman or a backyard brawler, but this Renzo Gracie black belt’s resume is littered with all-star talent.  Nelson holds wins over heavyweight upstarts Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve, along with a victory over MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic during his UFC tenure.  Conversely, Nelson’s three losses came at the hands of three division powerhouses in Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum, and Junior dos Santos.

For all the smiles and his Kung Fu Panda-esque approach to fighter marketing, Nelson is one of the toughest men to ever step foot inside the vaunted Octagon – something that is evident when you take into account his past opponent list, and the fact that he’s yet to be finished inside the UFC.

On Saturday at UFC 159 in Newark, N.J., Nelson finds himself staring face-to-face with one man who will surely test that unfinished streak: French kickboxing standout and UFC heavyweight veteran Cheick Kongo.

Having made his UFC debut all the way back at UFC 61 in 2006, Kongo is one of the longest tenured and most accomplished heavyweight fighters in company history.

“A lot of people underestimate Cheick, but he’s fought some of the best people in the world,” Nelson told

“What a lot of people don’t seem to get about Cheick; listen, I think Cheick Kongo could be a hall of famer. He’s got more wins at heavyweight than Randy Couture.”

Hall of fame debate aside, Kongo brings a lengthy list of foes fallen in his wake, and an imposing set of skills that can give any veteran fighter fits.

Despite his Gracie blackbelt, Nelson has made a career giving fans the fights they want to see, he constantly engaging in Fight of the Night worthy slugfests that leave little to the imagination.  After all, what’s the point of looking like an untamed African lion if you don’t fight like one?

“I’ve tried the other styles – it’s like stepping over dimes when you’re trying to pick pennies. It just doesn’t make sense to do that,” Nelson stated a matter-of-factly.

“I’m in the sport for fans to love me for who I am and to leave a legacy.  I’m trying to be true to me, and to be true to my fans. Because my fans will always back me. I’d say a lot of different fighters, they kind of play to different fans to where they’re kind of mixed emotions. So when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, or something a little different, then they’re like, ‘Well, that was a little different. That’s not really me.’

“People are always trying to reinvent themselves, when all they really need to do is be themselves.”

When questioned about his risky fight style in relation to the seemingly obvious “cut culture” that UFC fighters are living in today, Nelson replies, “There’s not really a cut culture.”

What about Jon Fitch?

“He has a job.”

Nelson elaborates, “It’s all about personality. It’s all about ‘do you know who I am?’  The difference is, if you walk down the street and no one knows who you are – like Jon Fitch, that was the reason the UFC didn’t really like him.  He wasn’t like the numbers drawer, where he walks down the street (and people know who he is).  A Tito Ortiz, he can fight for another organization and do really well.

“The thing is, with me, I know where I stand with the level of popularity, and my fight style. You could put me on a Floyd Mayweather card and people would be like, ‘Oh, it’s a cross between boxing and wrestling, but we’ll watch it because Roy’s on it!’”

Currently riding a two-fight winning streak, with both victories coming by way of vicious first-round knockout, Nelson is riding a career-high wave of positivity.  And with title shots handed out seemingly on a whim at times, Nelson is hopeful that UFC gold could be in his near future.

“I could probably still lose and get a title shot,” said the Las Vegas native.

“I mean, Nick (Diaz) lost and got a title shot. It’s about what fights do you want to see.  The only reason Big Foot (Antonio Silva) is fighting is because we were like, ‘This guy over here, this big Demolition Man, Alistair Overeem’s gonna be our next guy, blah, blah, blah.’ He’s (supposed to) get the next title shot and he gets knocked out.

“It’s kind of like a tournament format, ‘Well, he beat him, so that kind of gives us credibility.’”

The irony is thick, and not lost on this writer, as Nelson prepares to share a card with a title fight between the arguable greatest fighter of his generation, and a journeyman who is coming off a loss.

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones puts his belt on the line against Chael Sonnen in the UFC 159 main event.

But Nelson’s not wrong; this is sports and entertainment. You just have to find your honor, legacy and tradition in pockets.

And title shot or not, no matter what’s next for Nelson after Kongo, one thing is abundantly clear: he wants a winner.

“I’ve fought the best guys in the world. I’d love to fight Cain (Velasquez), unless Big Foot wins, then I’ll fight Big Foot.  If Mark Hunt beats Junior (dos Santos), then I’ll fight Mark Hunt.  I’m game for a lot of different people. It’s just, it’s the UFC, so you never know.”

(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)

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  • projectchapter2

    Love Big Roy speaking truth. Say it like it is.

  • Sir_Roy

    Always liked this character. Never judge a book by its cover. Cuz you’ll end up on your arse more often than not … and in more ways than one.

    • bajafox

      I’d like to see Nelson be Jones’ first fight at HW if he moves up. Nelson has the great wall of china behind that beard and a great ground game

      • Supaman

        that would be a fun fight.

  • drkdisciple

    “I could probably still lose and get a title shot,”? loll I think poor Roy has been hit on the head a little too hard. Dana like Chael so he got an undeserved title shot…Dana hates Roy so a loss is more likely to result in him getting canned then getting a title shot.

  • Mcgiggity

    War big country!

  • Kongo is a veteran fighter but really only has 3 big wins. Antoni Hardonk, Cro Crop and Pat Barry. If he can stop Nelson he should get a fight with The Reem or JDS then a title shot IMO. But I honestly see Nelson having this one without a problem. Guy KO’s people and has a great ground game. If Nelson does win I’d like to see him go against Cormier.

  • urdooomb

    Ryan you are a horrible writer. WTF? You expect to make a living by writing?

    • jeremy

      You’re an idiot, this was a good article.

      • zztoppppp

        The main idea in the article was good, but his writing was lacking. This is very amateurish work. I’m not saying it is the worst thing I have ever read, but I have trouble believing that such a professional website would pass this off as journalism.

        • urdooomb

          jeremy thought it was good writing and I am too stupid to realize.

          I mean come on. Professional writers shouldn’t write like this. This is a work of an uneducated internet blogger/MMA groupie.

          I think everyone can improve his or her writing. It just drives me crazy when I have to read and re-read sentences three or four times because of crappy writing.

          • bajafox

            Maybe they should have a coloring book section for you?

          • Anthony Lopez

            You don’t exactly come off as knowing what amazing writing is by your comment.

  • urdooomb

    I saw the actual video.

    No, Roy Nelson will not get a title shot even if he beats Cheick Kongo let alone loses to him.

    Yes, Cheick Kongo is a gatekeeper.

    Yes, Roy Nelson is a gatekeeper.

    Frank Mir is not a powerhouse at HW. He just lost to DC. Where does that loss put him in the HW division? Well below real powerhouses like Cain and JDS. I would put Bigfoot, Werdum, Carwin, and DC over Mir. But Mir over Nelson. So….wtf? Nelson gets a title shot because he is fat?

    • Ryan McKinnell

      This was a separate interview done weeks ago, Urdoomb. There is no video of this, only audio. Sorry you don’t dig my writing. Thanks for reading!

      • urdooomb

        But you do need to improve on your writing should you want to be more than an internet MMA blogger.

        The thing is full of grammatical errors.

      • urdooomb

        “UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson has become a bastion for the overweight bearded man since winning the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.”

        This sentence makes no sense.

        “a” bastion for “the” overweight bearded “man”??? omg.

        “Occasionally Nelson mislabeled a journeyman, backyard brawler, this Renzo Gracie black belt’s resume is littered with all-star talent.”

        This sentence makes no sense. I think you accidentally added the word Nelson.

        “For all the smiles and his Kung Fu Panda-esque approach to fighter marketing…” <–this sentence made me reaslize that you are an amateur. It is a very awkward way of wording what you wanted to say.


        • Ryan McKinnell

          Typos happen, brother. It comes with the territory. In regards to calling Roy a “bastion,” allow me: “a thing or person regarded as upholding or defending an attitude, principle, etc.” Simply put, dude is putting it down for fatties with beards. Sorry you didn’t dig the rest of the work. Enjoy the fights!

          • no, it appears he’s simply using words you don’t understand…

  • urdooomb

    “I could probably lose [weight] but still [not] get a title shot.”

  • Denny Swain

    Roy should target cormier. I think roy will ko cormier. Cormier looked tired and weak against mir. Big country is dangerous everywhere. Cormier likes punching but nelson hits way harder

    • urdooomb

      Dude, Roy can’t even beat Mir. And I don’t think he can beat Bigfoot.

      Roy is not on DC’s level.

  • Ken

    Roy is a great fighter to watch in the octagon. regardless if he ever gets his title shot, i’ll tune in when he fights

    • urdooomb

      yeah…says the guy that didn’t even know his existence before he fought Kimbo on TUF.

  • urdooomb

    Roy Nelson is dumb. He has to know his place. He looks good against weak opponents. And he crumbles to any top 10 guy out there. Which top 10 fighter has he beaten??????


    Is Nelson out of his mind??? It’s the quality of opponents Couture faced which makes him a legend not quantity !!!

    “What a lot of people don’t seem to get about Cheick; listen, I think Cheick Kongo could be a hall of famer. He’s got more wins at heavyweight than Randy Couture.”