"Big Country" is looking to downsize.
But can the husky heavyweight make it all the way to down to 185-pounds? Sounds like a lofty goal -- until you consider that UFC veteran Joe Riggs, who was tipping the scales at well over 14 stone -- now competes at a "Diesel" 170-pounds.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 Champion could be on the Zuffa chopping block after his performance in the UFC 130 co-main event last Saturday night (May 28), one that saw a tired and sluggish Nelson get beat up from pillar to post like a rented mule by a svelte Frank Mir.
UFC President Dana White was not impressed.
Roy Nelson's cardio at that weight was still impressive when you consider his physique. He kept getting up even late in the fight which may indicate this weight type of weight cut won't be as hard as many may presume. He may just need to embrace it because he knows that it may be the one major factor holding the heavy-handed mullet warrior from being ranked among the sport's elite.
Mike Dolce explains (via MMA Weekly):
"In my honest and humble opinion, I believe I could help Roy Nelson unlock his full potential as an athlete, as a fighter, but also in health potential as a human being. I used to be 280 pounds, so at five-foot-nine I walked around 20 pounds heavier than Roy weighed in at the UFC, and now I’m 188 pounds this morning at six percent body fat. I can get him down easily if he wants to be a chiseled heavyweight. I can certainly do that. If he wants to be a light heavyweight I can do that. I could probably get him down to middleweight depending on what his goals are. I could do it the most healthy way possible, extend his life, extend his vitality, all of those things. But in the short term take every possible advantage to get the utmost of his ability."
If you think that a cut to middleweight is impossible than look no further then UFC/Strikeforce/Bellator (and every pit stop promotion in between) veteran Joe Riggs, who cut from heavyweight to welterweight.
Riggs started his young fight career in the heavyweight ranks and fought veterans Travis Fulton, Wesley "Cabbage" Correria and even his future referee Herb Dean.
The very pudgy and T-rex-armed Riggs was an impressive 13-3 as a heavyweight before he decided he needed to factor in diet to his mixed martial arts equation. He made his debut at light heavyweight against Alex Stiebling at WEC 9: "Cold Blood" where he would lose. "Diesel" would go an impressive 3-1 as a 205'er but wanted to face guys more his size.
Welcome to middleweight, Mr. Riggs.
His career at 185-pounds proved to be his best move as he notched a stellar record of 6-1 with big wins over eventual Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 3 winner Kendall Grove, UFC veteran Joe Doerksen and he even won the WEC middleweight championship over Ron Kimmons.
Welcome to welterweight, Mr.Riggs.
Riggs took a giant leap in competition when he entered the ultra-tough 170-pound division. His first fight was a very impressive win over MMA veteran Chris Lytle. The win would earn him his first and only UFC title shot against arguably the greatest welterweight of all time, Matt Hughes.
Riggs and his weight cost him the title shot as he tipped the scales heavy and his fight at UFC 56 became a non-title affair. The much wiser and experienced Hughes dominated the younger Riggs as Hughes made him submit to a Kimura in the first round.
The humiliation of the weight not being met coupled with the loss, Riggs would never see the bright lights of a UFC main event ever again. He would venture between middleweight and welterweight but never found that niche weight class that he could dominate in.
Roy Nelson could use this tale of Riggs to not repeat the mistakes of jumping between extreme differences in weight. He can just pinpoint how to become lighter and stronger within his own weight class because he has a lot of useless weight on him and could at least get down to 205 -- if he can nail the weight cuts.
Nelson clearly takes this pivotal point in his career as serious as anyone because he contacted Dolce, arguably the best in the business at weight cutting.
Fighters from all weight classes and physiques have used the Dolce Diet including Quinton Jackson, Michael Bisping, Jake Ellenberg, Thiago Alves, Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Mike Pyle and Duane Ludwig.
Nelson would be his first publicly known heavyweight to use the diet. Some of the clients listed above have also fought in two or more weight classes at one point or another.
Mike Dolce, a fighter himself and author of the book "The Dolce Diet: Three weeks to Shredded," has blown up amongst UFC fighters. The response has been amazing and it seems the fighters like that an ex-fighter created a simple yet highly effective diet.
The simplicity of the diet is what helps fighters keep their eyes on the prize.
It promotes healthy eating and less supplementation and is basically establishing a reverse to a farmer's diet. It tries to get you to gain each gram of protein through natural livestock and vegetation without greens plus any essential vitamins that are not in a bottle.
I think Nelson will enjoy this because he has been a trooper. If he can take numerous shots to the gut without flinching then why would anyone doubt him being able to lose some of that famed belly?
Regardless of his physique he is a professional athlete.
His cardio at such a weight is remarkable and could only get better. His main thing that I have noticed is his strength levels. I have not seen him bully someone by strength but by technique like when he laid upon Kimbo Slice in the TUF exhibitions.
Nelson has all the technical aspects to be hanging in the top five of his division but with Strikeforce heavyweights eventually getting merged into the UFC ranks the window of being among the elite is closing -- FAST.
Will Mike Dolce make him a smaller "Country" and raise a UFC heavyweight title for the "Country Club?" Or will Dolce simply make Nelson a healthier athlete?