For a show designed to feature the best and brightest up-and-comers in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), Roy Nelson's inclusion on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 10 seemed a little unusual. Then again, this was the same season that recruited names from the National Football League (NFL), as well as the backyard barbecue circuit.
"Big Country" was already an established heavyweight on the regional scene, going toe-to-toe with Andrei Arlovski, Ben Rothwell and Jeff Monson, just to name a few. In addition, his grappling pedigree and experience at Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) made him a mismatch for just about anyone in the TUF house.
Was he a plant, whose sole objective was to make sure Kimbo Slice failed to advance?
Whether he was or he wasn't, that's exactly what Nelson did on episode three of the Spike TV reality show, en route to securing his spot in the finals with subsequent wins over Justin Wren and James McSweeney. The only thing standing between him and a "six-figure contract" was a hard-hitting finalist named Brendan Schaub.
The stage was set for the main event of TUF 10 live finale on Dec. 5, 2009 from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here's how it all went down.
Schaub towers over Nelson as they touch gloves to make it official. The "Hybrid" boxing looks clean and crisp as he stings his foe with consecutive jabs. "Roy Nelson wants to get this fight down and get this fight down FAST," exclaims UFC play-by-play man Mike Goldberg.
Nelson was apparently listening and lunges forward for a single-leg takedown.
With relative ease, Schaub shucks him off and pushes him into the cage. Nelson instinctively covers up and gets lit up by combinations. It's still early in the fight, but the Coloradoan is competing more like the favorite than the +160 underdog.
"Big Country" decides to end his role as punching bag.
The former International Fight League (IFL) Heavyweight Champion bumrushes his opponent and locks up a body clinch, lumbering forward and using his considerable girth to send them both tumbling to the floor. The first audible boos can be heard as fans watch Nelson work for an Americana from half guard.
Perhaps they were Kimbo fans?
Unlike Slice, Schaub is a competent ground fighter and uses his attacker's lazy posture to mount an escape. As it turns out, he was probably safer on the floor. They reset in the center of the cage and spend the next minute exchanging blows with "The Hybrid" working the body.
"I don't know if Nelson even feels those," chuckles UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
Schaub is sticking and moving while pawing a left hand, just as Nelson crow-hops with a right, coming over the top and turning the lights out on his bewildered foe. The crowd erupts and Rogan uncorks his patented "wwwwwwwwwwwwowwwwwwwwww!"
Ladies and gentlemen, Roy Nelson is the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 10.
"Big Country" returns to the live finale of the combat sports reality show, this time as TUF 16 coach on FX, taking on fellow TUF 10 contestant (and late replacement) Matt Mitrione for all the marbles in this Saturday night's (Dec. 15, 2012) telecast emanating from "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
See how "Meathead" left his mark on UFC history here.