I was recently lucky enough to garner some time from one of the top heavyweights in mma today. He is one of the best self promoters, trains at his house and would never turn down a fight. Roy Nelson is a fighter I was a fan of long before he entered the TUF house. I'm sure has had his fan base grow quite a bit since TUF has ended.
MMBB: You know what I have to ask first...Coming out to "I'm Fat" by Weird Al, your idea or the UFC?
Nelson: That would be (pauses) For the creativity would have to come from me.MMBB: I figured that, as a great self promoter, one of the best at it, where do you get that from?
Nelson: Other people have done the roadmaps for us, you know, other athletes that have stuck out. From Andre Agassi being a rebel to using Tito Ortiz as an example in our business. You need something to stand out and make you different from the rest of the crowd, plus you have to be able to fight.
MMBB: Thats's the main thing. When you were going on to TUF, hardcore fans knew you, but casuals only follow the UFC generally, do you know what you were ranked prior to the show?
Nelson: I think I was definitely in the top 20, but ratings really don't count, that very media manipulated. I think they actually still have Brett Rogers in the top 10.
MMBB: I agree, what I was getting at is do you think that TUF could have hurt your career rather than help it? I mean you probably could have gotten into the UFC without TUF.
Nelson: Yeah, doing TUF show was basically a PR ploy. Basically it was my PR stunt to make sure I was introduced to the UFC's fans correctly.
MMBB: Now did you have any idea Kimbo Slice was going to be on the show prior to taping?
Nelson: No, that was actually one of the biggest surprises, and then when I found out I had to fight him I was actually a little upset about it.
MMBB: When you saw him walk out you must've been happy knowing the fan base he brings to the table, even though he's not even a real mma fighter, he's gonna get you crazy exposure.
Nelson: On the business side, yeah I was happy because more people are going to be watching the show because of Kimbo. When I had to fight him, I hated that, all I could think of was that "ah man I'm losing like a half million dollars."
MMBB: I guess that's one way to look at it too, I never thought of it like that, I'm thinking you get the so called "glory boy" in your first fight. A lot of the audience probably thought you were going to lose, so in the long run you get a lot more fans. But then again if that fight happens on CBS you're gonna make a lot of money!
Nelson: yeah, that's what he had made his last fight, and I figured when I fought Andrei, he made a half million so I figured I could have made roughly at least half that or at least a half a million.
MMBB: During the show, Dana White didn't seem to care for you, is your relationship good with him or is it basically he's your boss and that's it?
Nelson: Actually I'd say nobody is really my boss because we are independent contractors. Well at least that's what we are told on paper. So for the most part, Dana promotes fights, that's what he's good at. But the real boss over at the UFC is Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana, but those are the guys that...You got to really understand how the pecking order really goes.
MMBB: I understand you guys are independent contractors, but on the flip side if you said hey I'm gonna go wrestle in the WWE, not like Rampage and his cameo, but really wrestle, they aren't going to let you do that, so technically you are tied down no?
Nelson: Technically if we are independent contractors then that would be a negative.
MMBB: Really, wow, I've never heard it quite put like that. How's the knee rehab going?
Nelson: Rehab is still a work in progress, I think a couple weeks ago I had a little set back but for the most part it's getting better. It's good that I've had some time off.
MMBB: There were rumors that Brock had called you out, then it was said he didn't. Can you explain to me step by step how you would beat Brock. It's already obvious that he doesn't like to get hit, so how would you go about beating him?
Nelson: Actually everyone can thank Shane Carwin. Shane Carwin showed everybody how to beat Brock Lesnar. Then Cain Velasquez took it one step further, said ok I'm not going to get tired, and now the third person to fight Brock just watches what Cain Velasquez did. That's the thing that Brock is gonna have to fix, like ok I can't get a take down and I can't stop the takedown. Basically Velasquez showed how to beat him so we should thank Cain.
MMBB: It's very obvious he doesn't like to get hit, does that have to do with heart or does he have to actually go to a decent training camp where he's not paying everyone and he's not the boss? Where do you think it stems from?
Nelson: I really don't know if he doesn't like to be hit in the face or anything like that. How it works in our sport, it's either you like to get hit or you don't like to get hit, like you don't mind getting hit. If you don't really like getting hit...I know some great athletes that just can't get punched. They just close their eyes and end up like a flopping fish out of water. It's one of those things, it's not a skill I think you learn, it's more like an animal instinct.
MMBB: You brought up Shane Carwin, you got Todd Duffee, we see these guys all jacked up with muscle on top of muscle gassing out quick. Do you think it's because of their physique whereas a guy built like you and me doesn't get tired so quick?
Nelson: Anybody that know the physiology of the human body knows that the more muscle you have the more oxygen you need. So the more muscle you have, your cardio needs to be better, it's not rocket science. That's why I like to float like water.
MMBB: I talked to a fan yesterday who said he thinks you could make 205, what do you have to say to that fan?
Nelson: You know I wish I could make 205, but I haven't seen 205 since my sophomore year in high school, and maybe I'd have to cut off my right leg or something like that.
MMBB: Do you have anyone in particular that you want to fight when you come back or are you basically waiting to see who's offered?
Nelson: You know what, I'd fight anybody that's on the roster, but if I had my choices I would go: Big Nog, but he's out until June, so in my perfect scenario it would go Brock, Big Nog, then fight for the belt and then fight Shane and then whoever. I really don't care!
MMBB: I love fighters like that, I can't stand these guys that you hear about turning down fights, I mean if you're a fighter, why are you turning down fights?
Nelson: The way I look at it is if you're supposed to be the best of the best, you shouldn't be turning down any fights.
MMBB: Another debate we were having on a forum the other day is, obviously Greg Jackson's camp gets a lot of flack for being boring, Jon Fitch and Gray Maynard, do you think it would be perceived as less boring if in North America they allowed knees to the head of grounded opponent or kicks and stomps. I mean instead of someone sitting in north/south position, they could potentially end the fight, where do you stand?
Nelson: I don't really believe in knees to the head on the ground, or soccer kicks. It's still a sport. It's not because these guys are boring fighters, it's kinda rigged for...the reason it's considered a boring fight is because the guy on the bottom doesn't know how to get up. Everyone thinks it's the guy on top not doing anything, but the guy on top is the guy that's winning. The guy on top is in the dominant position, why does everyone think he has to be doing something? Really it's the guy on bottom that actually sucks and that's the reason he can't do anything.
MMBB: And that's the reason he's on the bottom to begin with?
MMBB: Judging, do you have problems with all these bad decisions, I know the most recent was Rampage, I thought it coulda gone either way, but what do you say about judging, finish fights or get guys that actually know mma rather than guys like Cecil Peoples?
Nelson: The Machida fight was either Machida won or it was a draw. It's kinda hard to say because they are using the 10 point must system. I think it be easier if it wasn't 3 rounds, now if you mess up once it kinda screws up the whole thing versus if you had like 5 rounds then you could make it up, you could double check yourself. I just think judges need to be more educated.
MMBB: I agree, there's been a lot of rounds where I could score it 10-10, but they just are too afraid to score it that way.
Nelson: The reason most judges won't do it is because 10-10 will screw up the whole scenario of who wins because you'll have a lot of draws. It also would be messing up with all the bookies, there has to be money being made.
MMBB: I don't know about that.
Nelson: There's no ties in gambling.
MMBB: Right, I gamble a lot, and on a lot of mma, and I would have no problem with, Machida/Rampage is a good example, I thought it could have gone either way, I would have been happy as hell with a draw and I as a betting man would have no issue with the draws, it would make guys think more like: Oh shit I have to finish because there have been a lot of 10-10 rounds.
Nelson: Actually in mma it wouldn't make a difference because for most fighters, say you fought 50 times and they were all draws, it would be like, hey I'm 0-0-50. You're still gonna get paid the same, it's really not going to affect your money if you're one of the top guys. Every fighter goes out there trying to finish the fight, sometimes it just doesn't happen. You hit some guy hard enough in the head and they just don't go down and then sometimes you're like man I'm tired. There's a lot of things that go on with a fighter throughout the whole fight. Like Fitch vs. GSP, that was the most funnest fight to watch, but then you got GSP and how he fights now, he fights safe. There's nothing wrong with that it's just, as long as you're a winner, everyone loves you and you're gonna get paid. How our scenario works is if you get paid with a win bonus, it's about just winning, it has nothing to do with how exciting you look because most people's win bonus is bigger than knock out of the night or submission of the night. So it really doesn't make sense to go out and say I'm gonna get KO of the night and then lose, and then you lose your win bonus. It's one of those things that really doesn't make sense, the whole thing is just to win.
MMBB: You bring up GSP and fighting safe, it's obviously been ever since Serra clocked him, do you think that affected him as in he doesn't like to get hit, he has a soft chin, what do you think is going through his head?
Nelson: No I think it's once you get knocked out or once you get put in a position you never want to be in again, you just learn from it and go I'll never have that happen again, and GSP has done that, he's never let it happen again. That's just being a smart fighter, it has nothing to do with being a boring fighter or I don't want to engage or do this, it's just I don't want to get knocked out, I want to win. It's like a coach in basketball using different defenses where they don't have to play man or they play some zone. It's just different strategies.
MMBB: You think Koscheck has a chance?
Nelson: I think he has a better chance than last time. I think Koscheck was just thrown off with GSP's wrestling ability and I think this time he'll be ready for his wrestling so he won't be on his back as much. I think it will come down to who has the better striking and who can mix it up the best.
MMBB: How many months are we away from seeing you fight again?
Nelson: I'm open, my Dr. was going to let me fight sometime in February, so I'm hoping like March.
MMBB: That's right around the time Brock should be coming back, I hope the UFC can put that fight together, I know as a fan I'd want to see it!
Nelson: That's a fight I'd like to see, if not maybe you will be seeing me on the TUF show, maybe I'll be an ultimate fighter coach.
MMBB: Is that something they've talked to you about or something you're just throwing out there?
Nelson: I'm just putting it out there. I think they know who they want.
MMBB: You'd probably be good at it, isn't that where you got started, coaching?
Nelson: Yeah I coached a couple UFC champions and it wasn't paying the bills so I decided to just go take their money.
MMBB: Roy, I really appreciate the time, anyone you want to thank before I let you go?