Roy Nelson may be quick with a deadpan joke or just as fast to distance himself from the “typical” talk coming from a professional fighter, but despite his maverick stance, as he approaches his Saturday battle with Daniel Cormier in the UFC 166 co-main event in Houston, his goal is the same as any of his peers.
“My plan is still to get the championship belt,” he said. “So my plan is to beat DC so he can stop protecting Cain (Velasquez), and then hopefully if Cain wins (against Junior Dos Santos), I fight Cain. And then become champion.”
That’s a man with a plan. Perhaps one a bit too optimistic considering that he’s coming off a one-sided loss to Stipe Miocic in June, but in a division as wide open as it’s ever been, if “Big Country” can put a “1” in Cormier’s loss column and especially if he can do it by knockout, stranger things have happened in this sport, and that’s just what Nelson is hoping for.
“My contract says if I fight for a championship I get paid more, so I need to fight for the championship,” he laughs. “Everybody wants to get a raise, and how do you get a raise? You become champion. The UFC is not in the entertainment business, it’s in the championship business.”
And Roy Nelson is in the Roy Nelson business, so it was interesting to see him take the short notice bout with Miocic at UFC 161, especially when it was the final fight of his last contract. Of course if he won, it added even more bargaining power for the Las Vegan, but when he lost, it made people question why he would even roll the dice like that.
“I had a bad night,” said Nelson of the fight, which he said he was overtrained for. “But from a business standpoint it was the smartest thing I did – I made more money.”
He did land on his feet, as he re-signed with the UFC and stepped right into a big co-main event bout, making the loss to Miocic a distant memory.
“I think fans that watched the Miocic fight, it was just weird because even afterwards they said ‘I’d kick his ass, he ran the whole time, blah, blah, blah.’ With Daniel, I hope he comes to fight and doesn’t try to hug me.”
And if the two-time U.S. Olympian does try to goad Nelson into a wrestling match?
“You don’t hug him back,” said Nelson, a jiu-jitsu black belt who has nonetheless scored knockouts in his last ten wins. “At the end of the day, you try to make sure you don’t get into a hugging match. To make a really good fight, you’ve got to have two great fighters. And I know that when DC wants to bring it, he can fight. And then there are some times when he doesn’t want to fight and he just becomes a point fighter and plays the game. I’m more of the old school brain of ‘you’re a fighter.’”
So is the 36-year-old the last of a dying breed?
“Not really,” he said. “They (point fighters) will have a good run, but overall a fighter will always be a fighter. So if we fought 12 times a year, a fighter is always going to come out ahead versus the guy that’s playing the game.”
They’re not fighting 12 times a year though, just once. And if you lose that one fight, you can take three steps back. For Nelson, that’s the unfortunate part of his chosen profession. But hey, he can always dream of a different scenario.
“In football, you can have three bad days and be 0-3, but then still win the Super Bowl,” he said. “Our business isn’t like that. I just wish we could fight every month, and if I fought 12 times a year, I bet you I’ll have a winning record every time. There would be no rebuilding years.”
Roy Nelson: A Dream Unchanged
"To make a really good fight, you’ve got to have two great fighters." - Roy Nelson