UFC Heavyweight Roy Nelson (19-7, MMA) is on a 3-fight win streak where’s he’s knocked out each opponent he’s faced in the first round of action and earned two Knockout of the Night bonuses. Dave Herman, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo have all met the battering ram that is “Big Country’s” overhand right and none of them could escape it.
Following his win at UFC 159, the 35-year-old Las Vegas native wanted to up his ante and asked for a fight that would put him closer to a title shot. Up next, Nelson’s stepped up to fill a void on short notice in the UFC’s first event in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada at UFC 161 this Saturday. With less than a month to train before the event at the MTS Centre, Nelson agreed to take on Stipe Miocic (9-1, MMA) in the co-main event.
Though Stipe’s name is not regarded as one of the top ten contenders in the heavyweight division, Roy had no qualms about accepting the bout.
“Stipe’s in the UFC and I was told by Dana White that they’re the best in the world,” Nelson said.
Aside from just taking the fight on just a month’s notice, Nelson will also have another thing on his mind. Negotiations for his UFC contract will occur after this fight takes place. Whether or not he is victorious, Nelson said hammering out a new deal isn’t wearing on his mind.
“I think win or lose, I have fans and fans want to watch me fight. Win or lose, I always give a hundred percent. I actually just got the best compliment, he said ‘I remind him of the Mike Tyson era where you never know what’s going to happen with one punch’.”
Miocic, a former NCAA divison I wrestler and baseball player from Cleveland, was undefeated prior to being knocked out by Stefan Struve last September. He had three UFC wins to his credit prior to the Struve loss and was starting to build some hype for himself. Originally, he was slated to face Soa “The Hulk” Palelei. When the main event was lost due to Renan Barao’s injury, Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson became the main event. There was no marquee co-main event to give the Manitoba fans, so Roy was called upon to face Stipe because as he put it: “The whole card went to crap. They needed someone to save it. So they called Roy Nelson.”
“The reason why they gave me Stipe is because they needed someone to sell out the arena. They put me on it. As soon as they put me on it, it sold out,” Roy later added.
Miocic’s original opponent, Palelei, was shuffled to another fight on the UFC 164 card.
Despite many critics stating Stipe isn’t a name that could get Roy closer to a coveted title shot, Nelson admitted that Miocic is still pretty dangerous, especially since he’s coming off of a loss to Struve.
“Anybody coming off a loss, usually that’s probably the strongest that they’ll ever be is coming off a loss,” Nelson told MMA Fight Corner. “Just the pure fact that he’s coming off a loss, he’s had longer than the usual 3 or 4 months between fights, so I think it’s going to be the best Stipe anybody’s ever seen.”
“He’s knocked a lot of people out, he pushes the pace and he knocks people out. I just look at all angles that he’s going to be good at.”
Following his win at UFC 159, Nelson saw UFC President Dana White at UFC 160 and delivered a gift to him. Nelson gave him a T-shirt that read ‘The smartest guy on earth! Roy “Big Country” Nelson.” –Dana F. White’ It’s no secret that White and Nelson don’t often see eye to eye on most things, but “Big Country” believes that his title shot will come, it’s just a matter of continuing to pummel through the division .
“To be the undisputed, heavyweight champion of the world, you have to fight everybody. I think that’s really the goal instead of fighting everybody like 4 or 5 times. I think Cain [Velasquez's] already fought two guys twice,” said Nelson. “Undisputed would be like how [Georges St-Pierre's] already gone through the whole division and then after he’s gone through the division, they’re like ‘okay, let’s go through it again’. That’s kind of undisputed, not the way you the the same guy 3 or 4 times.”
“The way I look at it in the UFC, there’s 25 guys, let’s go through all 25 of them. That’s why our division is so rare. Anyone can win, that’s the beauty of it. This isn’t boxing where let’s set it up so I can get 30 matches by doing scrubs and then let’s do the big one,” Nelson added.
“It’s just in our business anything can happen. And that’s what I love about the UFC, that’s why people watch me, one punch you never know what’s going to happen.”
If Roy gets past Miocic, he does have interest in entertaining a battle with Daniel Cormier. Things have been brewing between the two since the UFC 161 media call took place last week. On that call, Roy stated that Cormier wouldn’t agree to fight him in the co-main event this Saturday. Though Cormier denied the accusation, stating that he hasn’t been cleared by doctors to fight yet, Nelson responded that the UFC doesn’t usually call upon fighters who are injured.
“I wouldn’t even bother calling a guy if he wasn’t cleared. I’m assuming they’ve got their ducks in a row. And they called him and said ‘that guy is cleared, so let’s call that guy’. We’re talking about a billion dollar company, I don’t think that they’re that idiotic. They don’t have the ‘smartest guy’ running it,” Nelson said.
“If he stays at heavyweight, I’m like Daniel, I’ll fight Daniel. He’ll be my last fight at heavyweight,” Nelson joked.