After eight years with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Roy Nelson inked a contract with Bellator MMA last week (details), though a date and opponent have yet-to-be announced.
The move came as surprise to many fans, as “Big Country” didn’t announce his looming free agency like many fighters before him are accustomed to doing. For Roy, the jump over to UFC’s biggest rival all had to do with trying to improve his quality of life.
“In MMA, anything can happen. It’s just kind of one of those things that is what’s best for my family and not what’s best for anybody else,” proclaimed Nelson during a recent interview on The MMA Hour. “It was just about understanding of what’s best for my family. I went back and talked to my wife and we went from there to see what we needed to do for better quality of life.”
Throughout his time with UFC, Nelson often butted heads with company president Dana White. So it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest things he looks forward to is working with fighter-friendly Scott Coker.
“The one thing about working with Scott Coker, is that you’ve never heard a bad thing about Scott Coker. And that means a lot, especially in our sport,’ he said. “The thing about working with UFC, they are under new management so there are a lot of different things that are happening. I wanted to be a part of something different that would make my quality of life much better.”
Nelson admits he’s anxious to return to Spike TV, as he made his UFC debut on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10, which at the time was airing on the Viacom-owned network.
“The one thing I’m excited about is being back with Spike and Viacom because they are the ones that launched MMA in the U.S. that is basically your roots and they have the crossover appeal that FOX Sports 1 doesn’t have, because that’s just like being on ESPN. It reaches fans that want to watch our sport, what got them into MMA.”
Furthermore, “Big Country” is thrilled about the potential of getting a lot of his old sponsors back — and landing possible new ones — now that he doesn’t have to oblige to the Reebok rules.
“That’s one thing I am very excited about. That’s a plus than being in the UFC, and being an employee and wearing a uniform.” As Nelson revealed, for the longest time he made more money with sponsors than he made with his actual fight purses.
Nelson’s last appearance inside the Octagon saw him come up short against Alexander Volkov at UFC on FOX 24 last April, bringing his record to 9-10 inside the eight-sided cage.