Dear Roy: bring back ‘Big Country’

Anyone feel short-changed


target="_blank">the last time Roy Nelson fought? I did. Not

because Roy was below par in combat, it was more about the big man

himself. Or rather, the lack of him.

Where was “Big Country”? In my mind: out there in the wilderness

somewhere, still grizzled and growing that Duck Dynasty beard and

whistling tunes with a keg of beer strapped to his back and some

animal skins slung over his shoulder.

Am I alone in thinking that the 249lbs version of Roy Nelson

just doesn’t cut the mustard?

“Little Country” was the man who weighed in at the

Houston event, and it was Lil’ Roy being tossed around by

Daniel Cormier’s use of leverage and technique as if he were

a lightweight.

I want big fat Roy, roly-poly Roy, and I want to enjoy every

acre of him for every second that he fights.

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‘Big Country’ in 2011 against Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 137

Shorn of those pounds, Lil Roy was no quicker than usual, and

still blowing hard halfway into the first round. This slimline

version is not on. In fact, he should be fined for not making

weight–the Nelson way.

Don’t we identify with Nelson because he is the everyman?

Don’t we admire what he has done because he has taken the

heaviest punches from the baddest heavyweights on the planet, with

belly, mullet and beard?

Didn’t sports fans love an Yokozuna, William “The

Refrigerator” Perry, Pablo “The Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval–or Babe

Ruth, for that matter–because of their shape and size? Those

facets endeared them to us.

Without that belly, Roy just looks wrong. Right now, sucking

himself in, he looks like his midriff’s been ravaged by a

bush fire. He was once six times that of Willie Nelson.

Time to let it go again, Roy. Please.

Cut the beard if you have to, but don’t burn the belly

pork. Big Country without the belly is a bit like Nick Diaz without

the sideways stare look and the nostril flare; like Mike Bisping

being muzzled in the build-up to a fight; or indeed, Chael Sonnen

being banned from banter with Brazil, on ethical grounds.

The belly was the Nelson trademark. Sure, his “hobo chic”–


target="_blank">as I coined it–derives a level of mocking

criticism from UFC President Dana White at his media scrums, but

you have to be somebody to get White on his soap box.

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Nelson celebrates his KO win over Cheick Kongo at UFC


The beauty of Roy Nelson is his huge size, and even bigger

silences. He’s a nightmare interview for the media men,

because his insouciance is legendary. Lose the fat; lose the aura.

Sampson had his hair; Roy has his belly.

In so many fights, you know opponents had trouble with

underestimating him because of the blob they were facing off


But in Houston, from a few feet away, he looked like a man

caught on the border–neither big, nor, indeed athlete. Just as

aficionados of MMA dream of pulling off moves which only Anthony

Pettis or Anderson Silva or Jon Jones are capable of in the

Octagon, don’t many of us with our own bellies and man

strength admire the way that Nelson nullifies opponents, takes the

beatdown and appears to emerge unscathed time and time again?

Here’s a little prayer that Nelson gets the turkey and

dumplings in early for Thanksgiving, and gets that big old roast

belly back to what it ought to be.

That way, he can don a Santa suit in six weeks time, do what

Mother Nature meant him to do by delivering presents at Christmas,

and then, in the New Year, when most folk are planning (or at least

claiming to be thinking) about UFC Fit and The Dolce Diet, put on

some pounds and get ready to be big bad “Big Country” again.