Roy Nelson on His Chance of UFC Title Shot: ‘I am Barry Sanders’ of MMA
UFC fighter, Roy “Big Country” Nelson spoke with Bloody Elbow Tuesday night about his progression in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Nelson (19-7) has been on a hot streak, winning his last three fights via first round T/KO in the past twelve months alone. It was announced that he will be fighting Stipe Miocic at UFC 161. Though the short-notice fight offers Nelson another shot at proving his skills in the Octagon, he has yet to face a top-ten heavyweight since losing a unanimous decision to Febricio Werdum last February.
For Nelson, his slow progression in the rankings is more about business than it is skill.
“I think they’re [the UFC] business people. That’s why Chael fought last month [against Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title]. They don’t want Mark Hunt to win [this Saturday at UFC 160]. They want Junior Dos Santos to fight Cain Velasquez again. It just makes sense on paper. That fight can make a lot of money. When [Alistair] Overeem got beat by [Antonio] Bigfoot [Silva], that kind of messed some things up. I make money no matter who I fight. Do I want a shot at the belt? Yes, of course I do. Put it this way, I am Barry Sanders on the Detroit Lions. You love to watch me, but you’ll never see me play in the Super Bowl. It’s just one of those things. It’s about politics. It’s not about fighting.”
But “Big Country” has been playing the politics. He has taken a number of short-notice fights, including his upcoming fight against Miocic.
“I’m always down to give the fans what they want,” said Nelson. “The thing is, you want to be 100%, but if you’re down with the organization, then you’re going to do what they want. If they say, ‘Hey, you want to fight next week?’ Then, yeah, you do it… It all depends on how it’s orchestrated… It all comes down to money. If the money is right, I’ll fight anybody. Any time. I’ll hit my grandma in the face if the price is right [laughs].
“I’ve never gotten a phone call saying, ‘Hey, we appreciate you.’ I stopped trying to think about how the UFC operates. It’s like trying to understand a woman. I don’t know if my management has gotten any phone calls, if they’re working on a fight, or anything like that… If it were up to me, I’d be fighting everybody every week.”
On that note, Nelson talked about fights with Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Josh Barnett, all fights he says the fans want to see. He even discussed a fight that could have been, with now-retired fighter, Shane Carwin.
“I always wanted to fight [Shane.] He pulled out the first time, right after I had knee surgery. That would have been the best time for him to fight me. I thought maybe the third time would have been the charm. It’s good that he moved on. I think he did alright in the UFC. The last time I talked to him, he had full retirement, so he’s doing okay. I’m happy that he’s happy.”
On Barnett, who has recently signed with the UFC, Nelson said it was possible.
“Well, first thing, is we do VADA. I know he’s been popped a couple times [for Performance Enhancing Drugs], so we definitely want to have an even playing field. It’s one of those things where I think it would be a fun fight, though. Josh always brings it. He’s an entertaining guy and a great fighter. When he goes out there, he leaves it all in the cage, which is what the fans want.”
For now, Nelson must prepare for Stipe Miocic and leave those other fights as possibilities. You can watch Big Country face Miocic at UFC 161 on Jun 15.