‘Big Country’ not worried about getting cut: ‘You’ll always pay to see Roy Nelson fight’
Roy Nelson is a veteran, paid fairly well and coming off a pair of losses. He also is not exactly best buds with UFC president Dana White.
But do you think "Big Country" worried about befalling the same fate as Jake Shields? Absolutely not.
Shields, one of the top fighters in the middleweight and welterweight divisions for the better part of a decade, was stunningly cut by the UFC on Monday. Nelson knows whether he wins or loses against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on Friday at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi, he isn’t going anywhere.
"I don’t know what [the UFC’s] thing is," Nelson told FOX Sports. "For me, I’m not concerned because there’s only one Roy Nelson. You’ll always pay to see Roy Nelson fight."
What it comes down to, Nelson said, is fighting style. Even though he’s a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, "Big Country" has one goal coming into a fight: knocking his opponent out. He doesn’t care who it is, either. Nelson, 37, stood and traded with Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic, two guys with better boxing backgrounds. He lost both of those bouts by decision, but hung in for the distance. Took a beating, too.
For me, I’m not concerned because there’s only one Roy Nelson.
-"Big Country" on the prospect of being released
"They let their fights dictate the style of fighter," Nelson said of guys like Shields. "I let my personality show with my fighting."
That personality has not always rubbed people the right way, in particular White. The two have exchanged words on multiple occasions. When Nelson applied to the Nevada Athletic Commission executive director in January, White called him a "f***ing moron" and said he wouldn’t even get a job at "f***ing Kinko’s."
"But I got a job with UFC," Nelson said.
White doesn’t like his attitude, but also can’t stand his physical attributes. Nelson fights in the Octagon with a long beard and gut. After knockouts, he jumps up on the cage and rubs his belly, almost proud of his portliness.
Nelson’s size has made people like White say for years that he should drop down to light heavyweight and that 205 pounds would be Nelson’s more natural weight class. "Big Country" doesn’t necessarily agree with that, but still could consider a drop.
"I’m getting older now," he said. "You tend to lose muscle mass."
Nelson would not move down because he doesn’t feel like he’s still a contender at heavyweight. He’s ranked No. 9 among contenders coming into this bout after those losses Daniel Cormier and Miocic, but says he’s "always in the conversation at heavyweight."
And retirement? That’s not on the horizon even though he’ll be closer to 40 than 35 in June.
"I just like to fight," Nelson said. "At the end of the day, I just want to fight for the belt. If I fight for the belt, I just know I’ll win."
It’s bold statements like that, along with his fighting style, that keep Nelson a compelling character. And in the UFC.