by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Roy Nelson and Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson are the two biggest names on The Ultimate Fighter 10, and on the next episode the two square off in an elimination bout. While several contestants were licking their chops at the opportunity to fight Kimbo, Nelson wasn’t one of them.
Coach Quinton “Rampage” Jackson picked the first two match-ups on the show and Rashad Evans’ team won both of them. When Evans got the chance to play matchmaker, he immediately put his most seasoned fighter against Jackson’s most known.
“Rashad (Evans) took us all in the back and said, ‘okay, who would you like to fight? Who do you think you match up good with?’ The whole nine yards. And then you just kind of picked who you wanted,” Nelson explained to MMAWeekly.com. “Me, I went in and was like, I want Zak (Jensen). They were like, ‘why do you want Zak?’ I was like, ‘Well, he got gogoplata’d by Brad Imes, so I want Zak.’ They were like, ‘You match better against Kimbo.’ I’m like, ‘No I don’t. I match really good with Zak, trust me.’”
Believing the decision was as much political as strategic, Nelson commented, “You just need somebody that will make Kimbo look better than what he is because he can’t lose to nobody else. That’s kind of how I picked it. From a business aspect, it just makes sense. That’s what I would do if I was running the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter, but as a fighter, I wanted Zak.”
Nelson’s not new to the fight game. He understands matchmaking and the format of the show. Tough fights early are not smart. “That’s not the easy fight,” said the 33-year-old heavyweight.
“There were like four guys on our team that was like, ‘Oh, I want Kimbo.’ I was like, ‘Have him,’” said Nelson. “I don’t want him. They’re looking at it as a meal ticket.”
Nelson and “Kimbo” have each headlined fight cards in other promotions. The match-up could main event any number of cards, but it’s the third fight on The Ultimate Fighter and the two realize how much money could have been made if it took place anywhere else.
“Me and Kimbo, we talked about it, like how much money we would have potentially lost by fighting actually on the show,” stated Nelson. “We could have headlined shows just by ourselves. So it’s actually kind of funny to go that route, but I’m glad that we did it. I think it’s probably going to be Spike’s number one show by far than even the premier.
“I think it’s going to be the fight of The Ultimate Fighter, and then it just gets better because after that you get to see the drama of what happens to me and Kimbo living in the same room together.”