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'Country' fixins: interview exclusive with Roy Nelson


When Roy Nelson lost to Junior dos Santos at UFC 117, he lost out on a potential opportunity to fight for the coveted UFC heavyweight title.

Little did he know, things would only go downhill from there.

He learned he would need surgery to repair his knee and a potential fight with former number one contender Shane Carwin was scrapped after the "Engineer" had surgery of his own to repair an ailing back.

Not only that but he's embroiled in a contract dispute with Roy Jones Jr. and Square Ring Promotions which, according to UFC President Dana White, is keeping "Big Country" from getting back into the Octagon anytime soon.

Nelson has stayed busy though, working hard at rehabbing his knee. We caught up with Roy to talk about how things are currently going with him regarding his contract status; whether or not he really wants to get into professional wrestling; his level of interaction on his Twitter account; what he believes needs to be done to improve judging in MMA; and what we can expect in the future from the burly brawler.

In we go.

Geno Mrosko ( - I have to start by asking about the contract situation with Roy Jones Jr. and Square Ring Promotions; can you tell us anything about that or give us any updates on that?

Roy Nelson - Do we always have to start with that question first?

Geno Mrosko ( - Ha. Yeah.

Roy Nelson - All right, what do you want to know?

Geno Mrosko ( - Are there any updates on the contract situation or can you tell us anything about that?

Roy Nelson - I'd say it's probably the same spot of where we were, I'd say, about 8 months ago, so there's nothing really new. It's just the legal process is very slow.

Geno Mrosko ( - Well there are some out there that think that this entire situation is a good reason or example for fighters to have managers. How do you feel about that?

Roy Nelson - Actually, I have a couple of attorneys on staff. And actually my attorneys are how I got into this process. I think that's the most, I hate to say, I guess the most ignorant thing, you know, if you're like.. what you have in the business.. Everybody says they don't have a manager or an attorney but they have an attorney somewhere.

Geno Mrosko ( - So you've got attorneys working on this to try to get everything settled right now?

Roy Nelson - Yeah, I had an attorney before that actually looks over the paperwork when I sign all my stuff. All the way back from when, I'd say, pre-Bodog.

Geno Mrosko ( - Well you've been on it from day one then.

Roy Nelson - Yeah, I've been doing this for a very long time. This is not my first rodeo. It's not the first time you, you know, there's a lot of people that deal with a lot of douchebags in this business and sometimes there's a little more, different sections.

Geno Mrosko ( - Dana White has been saying that you're sort of in a holding pattern in your UFC career because of what's going on with all that. Have you talked to him about all this and everything that's going on?

Roy Nelson - Actually, I haven't. I think he's been busy with promoting all the other UFC stuff. Me personally, I just wait by the phone, wait for the attorneys to call me and tell me what's going on and kind of just go from there. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm going to be fighting in 2011.

Geno Mrosko ( - Well now that we've got that out of the way, I'd like to go back to the Junior dos Santos fight. What was the gameplan going into that fight?

Roy Nelson - Gameplan was to defend and punch him more than he was going to punch me. I think that's you know, probably the jist of it. First round, he surprised me and then second and third round I learned from my mistakes in the first round and then after that it was just that I ran out of rounds. If I had four or five, I think it would be a different story.

Geno Mrosko ( - Is a rematch with him something you would like in the future?

Roy Nelson - Oh, I'd definitely like a rematch with him. I think it will probably be for the belt. I think he'll probably have it next.

Geno Mrosko ( - Do you think that if you had won that fight, cause I know it was for a title shot, that's what they were saying and now he's obviously fighting Cain Velasquez for the title but do you think if you would have won that fight they would have actually given you the title shot?

Roy Nelson - Uh, I would like to think so. If not then really you're calling somebody a liar.

Geno Mrosko ( - Ha. Yeah, well and you had the knee issues anyway. How is rehab going with the knee?

Roy Nelson - Rehab is going pretty good, I just came back from rehab.

Geno Mrosko ( - Since the rehab and since you've been out, I've seen that you've been very active on your Twitter account. What's it like being able to so easily interact with your fans with a medium like Twitter?

Roy Nelson - Twitter is awesome. I'm still trying to learn how to do the Facebook thing. Cause I've always used just straight e-mail or used my So, Twitter is kind of like fast and it's just like texting without giving out your cell number and actually I find it fun.

Geno Mrosko ( - I noticed a lot of times on your Twitter you talk about pro wrestling and that's something I can relate to. When I originally started out blogging that's what I started out doing, is pro wrestling. Can you talk a little bit about it, are you a pro wrestling fan?

Roy Nelson - Yeah, I've been watching pro wrestling back when it used to be on Saturday mornings at 12 and then right after that was American Bandstand.

Geno Mrosko ( - So you're an old school pro wrestling fan?

Roy Nelson - Oh yeah, old school with the you know, with Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, I mean, Big Van Vader, Junkyard Dog. I'm an old school wrestling fan.

Geno Mrosko ( - Late 80s guys.

Roy Nelson - Definitely.

Geno Mrosko ( - Still watch it now?

Roy Nelson - Occasionally. It's kind of like a regular soap opera, you know how you can just tune in on Monday night and find out what happened last week. If John Cena is going to be fired, I think that's this week and then I think two weeks ago was Pee-Wee Herman. It's one of those things that you just turn on and it's a train wreck ready to happen.

Geno Mrosko ( - Yeah, you can leave and then you can come back and it seems like it's all just recycled.

Roy Nelson - Yeah, I think two weeks ago when Vince McMahon was on a hospital bed but he came out when Linda McMahon didn't win the uh.. I think she was going for Congress or Senate or something like that..

Geno Mrosko ( - The Senate seat in Connecticut, yeah.

Roy Nelson - Yeah, so like he, you know, they do a lot of good cross branding and cross tieing in.

Geno Mrosko ( - To the larger point there, a lot of people draw, or I guess they try to draw, similarities between pro wrestling and MMA and the business models and things like that. What do you think about that, are there a lot of similarities in your eyes?

Roy Nelson - I think MMA's business model is WWE. You got Vince McMahon who is Dana White. You've got to have a face or a front man. And then after that you've just got the stars to build up and then you've got your... I would say definitely. I think Vince McMahon wrote the road map for how to make a successful MMA show.

Geno Mrosko ( - Do you think fighters try to create storylines that aren't necessarily, I don't want to say a work or anything like that, but do you think they try to create storylines out of nothing to try to help sell pay-per-views, sort of like pro wrestling? Or is it always real in MMA?

Roy Nelson - Storylines in MMA can be really far-fetched. Sometime people just pull strings to make whatever sounds good. That's what promoters do, you know, Don King can do it. But for the most part, I mean everything is real, but they just pull one aspect from their life and make it a storyline.

Geno Mrosko ( - What did you think of the Brock Lesnar-Undertaker deal at UFC 121?

Roy Nelson - I thought it was ingenious. Vince McMahon said, "Hey, do it." I'd do the same thing back to them. I'll go to professional wrestling and I'll do that to the Undertaker. I think it's great and I think it's great marketing.

Geno Mrosko ( - You would do that? If Dana White asked you to go to a WWE event and set that up you would go to Raw or Smackdown or whatever it was and you would start a feud just to build interest?

Roy Nelson - Actually, Dana White wouldn't even have to ask me, I would just do it. I'm a good self-promoter. I've been promoting myself since I've been in this business because nobody else likes to do the promotion. Everyone else likes to just knock fighters. They're always about promoting their own organizations versus the fighter.

Geno Mrosko ( - Would you ever consider, let's say hypothetically your MMA career doesn't work out, would you ever consider a career in pro wrestling?

Roy Nelson - Actually, my fighting career will work out and I'll still do professional wrestling.

Geno Mrosko ( - You would do both if they let you, right now?

Roy Nelson - Yeah, it's just about being an athlete. I mean, "Rampage" was a part of wrestling and part of MMA. There's a lot of wrestlers that's done both. From Ken Shamrock, I think Tim Sylvia's even done it, Josh Barnett. We can just name a couple that are doing it as we speak.

Geno Mrosko ( - Would you consider making it a career over MMA?

Roy Nelson - Uh, actually, until my career is completely done with MMA, like as in as soon as I'm done fighting and stuff like that then probably but for the most part you can do both. I've always believed you can hold more than one hate.

Geno Mrosko ( - Well we were talking about Brock Lesnar a minute ago and rumors had come out after his loss to Velasquez and Shane Carwin had back surgery, which is the fight you were supposed to have. Reports were that he'd talked about wanting to fight you and Dana White rather quickly shot that down. What did you think about that fight and what did you think of the way Dana was so quick to dismiss it?

Roy Nelson - You know, I don't know. From what I read and what I heard from two different sources and then from what Dana White said, which was he hadn't even talked to Brock since the fight, maybe Dana doesn't have all the facts because apparently the other fact came out after. So, you know, I think Brock talks to more than one person and not necessarily Dana all the time. So maybe it's true, maybe it's not, you don't know but for the most part if Brock wants the fight then I would love that fight. He was the longest reigning UFC heavyweight champion for the UFC.

Geno Mrosko ( - And he's probably the biggest name in the sport, so obviously that wouldn't hurt.

Roy Nelson - I don't know about that. I'd put Chuck Liddell or Tito Ortiz up there.

Geno Mrosko ( - You think so?

Roy Nelson - Actually, I'd put Royce Gracie as number one.

Geno Mrosko ( - I guess I was thinking of buyrates today and how many pay-per-veiw buys people are getting.

Roy Nelson - You know, it might be in terms of most dollars generated but most recognized I'd say Royce Gracie over Brock.

Geno Mrosko ( - Well and speaking of that, Dana White was talking about doing the Brock vs. Frank Mir trilogy and he got a lot of backlash from fans saying they didn't want to see it and Mir had definitively lost the second fight. Do you think there's a sort of disconnect there with the fans and the UFC, like the UFC should try to make match-ups based on what's good for business and what would make money or do you think they should focus a lot more on the sport and actually building things within each division?

Roy Nelson - I think it should be a little bit.. the thing is, the fan is always right because they're the ones that always pay the bills. They pay your bill, my bill, everybody's bills in the sport. And then second, I think would come down to the actual fighter. That's one thing I kind of like about boxing is at least you can go, you know what, I want to fight that guy. And let's make it happen. And then after that it's where the promoter goes, "Okay I need to make some money off you."

But at the end of the day, everybody should fight everybody at least once. That's how I look at it and that's really how you're going to find out who's the best of the best. But like with Brock, he's going to fight Frank three times and he's only had what? Four fights? So, three out of four fights? Well, I think it's like seven or eight but three fights out of eight or something like that, that's just not... usually that doesn't happen in a career. Unless you've got like 30 fights.

Geno Mrosko ( - What would you think of fighting Frank Mir again? You beat him at Grapplers Quest in 2003, what would you think about fighting him today and how would that go today if you were matched up with Frank?

Roy Nelson - I believe anybody that I'd fight, I'd win. So if I fought Frank I'd definitely see myself winning. It's just one of those fights that if fans want to see it then let's make it happen. If not, then it's not one of those things like I need to prove to myself to go, oh, I can beat Frank.

Geno Mrosko ( - How did you actually get into MMA, if we can go back to the beginning of everything, like I said the Grapplers Quest was in like '03 and I think your first professional fight was in like '04. How did you actually get into fighting as a sport?

Roy Nelson - I got into the fighting aspect as a sport was I used to coach a lot of UFC champions. And since coaching doesn't pay a lot of bills, cause usually you're not getting your trainer fees like how it is today. But back then I had a mortage and bills to pay and they weren't paying them so I just decided to go out there and just take their lunch money is the way I looked at it.

Geno Mrosko ( - Is it kind of odd to have a wikipedia page?

Roy Nelson - Not really. We are considered celebrities so I think anybody can have a wikipedia page. It's just someone pipes up and goes, hey I want to write about this person. It's not anything special. It's on the internet, you can have it be a blogger and have it be a reporter too.

Geno Mrosko ( - Your page actually says that you started off your training in Kung Fu, can you tell us about that?

Roy Nelson - Yeah, I'll say I started in Karate and that was back in like '84 when Karate Kid came out, you know just like everybody else. Did Karate and then did Kung Fu and then kickboxed and then I found jiu-jitsu and then started coaching and then after coaching then started fighting and now we are here today.

Geno Mrosko ( - Came an awfully long way from being the Karate Kid to fighting in the UFC now.

Roy Nelson - Yep. But when I started doing martial arts I just wanted to be in B movies and just be able to get paid to do martial arts cause I thought martial arts were just so cool and movies were the way you could do it and be a B movie star. That's what I wanted to do and now I'm actually bigger and better.

Geno Mrosko ( - What was your life like before MMA? What was life like growing up before that was something that ever entered into your mind?

Roy Nelson - I just taught kids. My biggest thing was just teaching so just teaching martial arts to teaching jiu-jitsu. Teaching elementary school you know, just regular school stuff. My goal was, I was a teacher before I really got into it so I was just like, I can always get back into teaching.

Geno Mrosko ( - You've actually fought in the city I'm from and the city I'm in right now, which is Moline, IL. What did you think of Moline and the Quad Cities in general?

Roy Nelson - I thought it was small compared to where I'm from. I think it's still good old boys there. Especially when I fought, I don't even think there was a commission. It's definitely good old boys there but definitely it's small town and you know it's just somewhere in the midwest.

Geno Mrosko ( - Was it the Mark of the Quad Cities that you fought at?

Roy Nelson - I believe so.

Geno Mrosko ( - For IFL, the Ben Rothwell fight.

Roy Nelson - Yep, that's right.

Geno Mrosko ( - Speaking of that fight, you lost a split decision. This is a question from my Twitter, I asked if anyone wanted to ask a question and this is one of the ones that came up. They wanted to talk about judging and now there's been some issues with refereeing with UFC 123 and things like that. Is there anything that you think can be done to improve on judging in MMA?

Roy Nelson - Definitely. I think we should probably go to five three minute rounds for just your normal fight and then 10 three minute rounds for championships. And I think you definitely get different, you know, once you get taken down, there's no stalling. There's no referee picking you back up. If you can't get off your back that's just too freaking bad. But it's only three minutes, you've got to watch it and then you start back up on your feet, three minutes and it's a new one and if you win the round, you win the round. You can still do the 10 point must system. But now you're talking 50 points or 100 points. Now it's like, if you have one bad round, it's hard to come back from that.

Geno Mrosko ( - How did you score the Lyoto Machida vs "Rampage" Jackson fight? I know a lot of people, like "Rampage" himself, were shocked he had won the decision. I scored it 29-28 "Rampage" personally. How did you score it and what did you think about the judging in that fight?

Roy Nelson - I always look at whoever has, where they're coming from either the red corner or blue corner. Red corner will always get the edge, usually, that's just always how it is. For the first part, I actually gave the first round to Machida or it could have been a 10-10. Just because the first three minutes was all Machida. I think he threw the first five kicks. So, he controlled the round, the first round. Even though it might have been the most stupid thing or most boring fight for the first round. Second round was all "Rampage," third round was all Machida. So I'd go with either a draw or Machida.

Geno Mrosko ( - Why do you think they don't score more 10-10 rounds, it seems like they never do that and obviously with a round as close as the first round seemed to be, it would seem like the perfect time to use that. Why do you think they don't do that?

Roy Nelson - The reason why is because there is only three rounds.

Geno Mrosko ( - So you think that if they used the five three minute rounds and the 10 three minute rounds in championship fights it would get used more.

Roy Nelson - Yeah because you could give a 10-10 and you've got four other rounds to actually change the dynamic of the fight. Because technically if you just split that up, the first round was Machida because the first three minutes was Machida. Then the second was "Rampage" and then you know if you start spliting them up then the second round, where it would be the third round, would have been Machida and then the end was "Rampage" and then the whole third or with the last three minutes of the third would have been all Machida, so Machida would have won like 49-46. He would have definitely clearly won because he controlled most of the fight.

Geno Mrosko ( - I think the argument was being made that even though Machida was landing the strikes and like you said, he was landing the kicks, "Rampage" was viewed as the aggressor. He was pushing the action, he was in the center of the cage and he was the one who was coming forward while Machida was moving backward or he was circling around to where it didn't look like he was being nearly as aggressive as "Rampage" and that's why they scored it the way they did.

Knowing something like that, does that change the way you fight when you get into the cage? Like there is a certain thing you need to do to make the judges think you're winning even if it's to the detriment to a gameplan or do you just go in and decide to fight your fight, no matter what they think?

Roy Nelson - Well, if that was the case then I beat dos Santos. If that's how the judges are actually going, based on who is going forward and who is the aggressor then you have to say Roy Nelson won. But the rule is whoever has the most effective strikes and then it goes to the most effective grappling and then after that it's the aggressor. So the aggressor is the third part of the whole trilogy. So that's the reason why the aggressor has nothing to do with who's landing more strikes, I think they need to use Compustrike or whatever.

Geno Mrosko ( - I wanted to touch on the Arlovski fight. The stand up in that kind of bleeds into the referee stuff, I know a lot of people were upset and they felt like the fight would have been different had they not stood you guys up. How different would that fight have been if there never was a stand up and how different would your career have been? Would you have had to go through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) house if you had won that fight?

Roy Nelson - I don't think I would have ever had to go through the TUF house, the TUF house was my choice. Just off of, you know, being IFL champion. I've done a lot in this sport. As for the Arlovski fight, I think it was just Florida. I've been robbed in Florida a couple of times so I'll just blame it on Florida and I won't say anything else. But that was probably one of the best fights that I ever learned from to make myself a better fighter though.

Geno Mrosko ( - What was the TUF house really like? You said it was your choice to go there, what was it really like having to be there?

Roy Nelson - It was definitely an experience that you only want to do once. It's like if you've ever been to jail and you're like, "Dude, I'll never go back there," but you kind of got scared straight; it's definitely one of those type of things cause I can imagine jail being a lot better.

Geno Mrosko ( - Ha. I don't know about that.

Roy Nelson - Hey, you can get a college education, you can watch TV, you get conjugal visits, you get books. That's all in jail; in the TUF house you don't get none of that.

Geno Mrosko ( - Same amount of people trying to rile you up, I guess.

Roy Nelson - Yeah. It's designed to make you crazy and then..

Geno Mrosko ( - More exciting fights?

Roy Nelson - I wouldn't even say more exciting fights, if anything it kind of dulls the fights down. It just kind of makes you go bonkers and it creates drama in the house and not actually during the fighting cause the fighting part is the easy part.

Geno Mrosko ( - You fought Kimbo Slice during the season and that was like the fourth most watched fight in MMA history. How did things change for you just off the strenght of that fight?

Roy Nelson - Not much of a difference. I think when I fought Arlovski, I think roughly the same amount of people saw me in that fight. I think I've been in like four of the top 15 in North America so it's like.. people have seen me fight before so it's not.. just because it was the biggest for Spike, you know, not necessarily but CBS is a little bit bigger of a juggernaut.

Geno Mrosko ( - Did you ever get the whopper you asked for?

Roy Nelson - In The Ultimate Fighter house? No. I tried to help everybody out cause we had to eat whatever we cooked and I was trying to splurge and trying to help everybody else get something out there and it still didn't work.

Geno Mrosko ( - Where did the whole Burger King gimmick come from? What made you decide on Burger King is that just what you like over all the other fast food joints?

Roy Nelson - No, actually, it was because I'm a smart business man and a self-promoter and I was looking on the ring at who would be a good sponser to get after I got out of the TUF house and it was Burger King. So I figured I would give them a little free promo and go from there.

Geno Mrosko ( - Has it worked out at all for you since then?

Roy Nelson - No, that's why I just eat Taco Bell.

Geno Mrosko ( - Where did the nickname "Big Country" come from?

Roy Nelson - "Big Country" came from, like I said, I used to train a lot of UFC fighters and we were doing takedowns and I was taking everybody down and everybody thought I was like an Oklahoma wrestler from Iowa. Just for my wrestling ability and the nickname kind of stuck. Eric Pele gave it to me, he was like, "What's up, Big Country?" The more I fought it, the more it stuck but they thought I was a wrestler from Oklahoma or Iowa and that's how it came.

Geno Mrosko ( - Who do you think is going to win the Cain Velasquez vs Junior dos Santos fight?

Roy Nelson - I think if Cain Velasquez doesn't get Junior down in the first two minutes, I see Junior winning.

Geno Mrosko ( - You think he'll knock him out?

Roy Nelson - I believe he'll knock him out.

Geno Mrosko ( - What can we expect in the future from Roy Nelson?

Roy Nelson - You can expect a lot of fun and exciting tweets, great fights and hopefully in 2011 you'll see Roy Nelson fight for the belt. At least, if I have my way.

Geno Mrosko ( - Anything you want to promote before we go?

Roy Nelson - Fans, always want to thank the fans and yourself. Also always go to and follow me on Twitter @roynelsonmma.

Geno Mrosko ( - Thanks a lot for taking the time, Roy, we appreciate it.

Roy Nelson - Appreciate it. Thank you.

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