A lot gets made about Roy Nelson’s grappling credentials whenever he faces another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, for instance his fight this weekend against former UFC and PRIDE champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Most of it comes from Nelson earning a black belt in jiu-jitsu from famed trainer Renzo Gracie, and long before he was a top 10 ranked UFC heavyweight, he was a well known and well versed champion on the grappling circuits. Long before promotions like Metamoris were putting jiu-jitsu matches on pay-per-view, Nelson was in the grappling circuit, locking up with the best in the world on seemingly a weekly basis and that buzz helped launch him into his MMA career.
Little did you know, however, that Nelson was never an ultra grappling enthusiast who studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 18 hours a day before going to a competition. In reality, Nelson’s involvement with grappling came down to one thing — money.
"I just remember I used to go to each tournament to make a couple bucks. I did as a living thing, I got paid to do martial arts so I’d go to these jiu-jitsu tournaments and make like $1000 every time I won the tournament. Especially at the time you could go fight and make $1000 or do jiu-jitsu and make a $1000. Get punched in the face or not punched in the face?" Nelson said when speaking with the Great MMA Debate podcast.
In one tournament in 2003, Nelson bested future UFC champion Frank Mir, Brandon Vera and Diego Sanchez all in night’s work.
Nelson also reveals in the interview that through all the tournaments he competed in over the years, and matches he had that helped build his legend before doing MMA full time, not once did he ever ‘train’ for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition. Instead, Nelson strapped on his gi, got to the mats, and just kept winning time and time again.
"When I grappled, I never even trained for a grappling match," Nelson revealed. "From my understanding now, people actually take this a lot more serious then back when I did, because I just did it as a weekend warrior."
Nelson also talks about his fight with Nogueira and the recent decision from the Nevada State Athletic Commission to ban testosterone replacement therapy. Also on today’s show, Clay Guida talks about coming back from a tough loss to Chad Mendes in his last fight and the long layoff he dealt with before fighting this weekend while world champion kickboxer Tyrone Spong discusses his standing in the sport, his ranking when it comes to standup fighting, and a recent rivalry with former UFC champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
All this plus debate about Jake Shields’ release from the UFC, Gina Carano possibly jumping in line for a title shot, and a full breakdown of this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card from Abu Dhabi.