Tired of Seeing Rematches, Roy Nelson Wants UFC to Try Heavyweight Tourney Format

By Andreas Hale Sep 23, 2015
Roy Nelson wants to go on a revenge tour after he fights Josh Barnett. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Roy Nelson has hit a rough patch in his MMA career. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 10” has lost four of his last five fights and was stopped for the first time in his 10-year tenure by Mark Hunt last September.

But while most UFC fighters would be fearful of being cut, “Big Country” doesn’t seemed concerned about it one bit. He figures that Saturday’s showdown with Josh Barnett at UFC Fight Night Japan will jumpstart his career and put him right back into the UFC heavyweight title mix. It’s a title that he has yet to fight for but is seemingly always on the cusp of contention.

“In the UFC as long as you can string together two good wins, you’re right there for the belt and with this fight I’m right there for the belt,” Nelson told Sherdog.com. “You’re always in title contention because the heavyweights are constantly changing roles. The hard part for our champions is to get them to fight. If everybody fought three times a year you’d see that belt change hands at least once a year.”

Nelson is of the mindset that as long as he’s exciting, there’s no reason why he would get the pink slip.

“If there are no fans there is no UFC,” the 39-year-old said. “You have to make the fans happy. They pay the UFC’s bills and they pay us. Without them it’s nothing. The fans are the big boss and as long as they’re happy then I’ll have a job.”

Although Nelson’s last win came against the now-retired Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, it’s not as if Nelson has lost to terrible fighters. Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic have all experienced life at (or close to) the top. With the exception of Hunt, Nelson believes that he could have beaten everyone that he has ever lost to. The only reason he didn’t was because of that pesky clock that gives fighters breaks between rounds.

“If we’re in a fight and there’s no time limit I’d win,” he said. “I just always run out of time. I lose a decision because there weren’t enough rounds.”

Nelson’s line of thinking suggests that it takes him about two-and-a-half rounds to figure out his opponent and by the time he has them down, the time is up. This only goes for those who purposefully avoid engaging with him because of that steel hammer he calls a right hand. Considering that all seven of his UFC wins have come by knockout, there’s good reason why his opponents adopt a Floyd Mayweather-like approach to their fight and make it a goal to stay upright and win on points.

And that annoys Nelson.

But he says that he’s still improving even though he’s creeping up on age 40 and has some new tricks up his sleeve for Barnett, should he choose to also try to slide by on the judges’ scorecards. And after he gets past Barnett, Nelson said that he wants to go on a revenge tour.

“Being in the sport as long as I have I’ve already fought everybody, and I’d like to fight everybody again,” he said. “I’m a better fighter now than I was the last fight and I want them to see that.”

One person he has his sights set on is current UFC champion Fabricio Werdum, who earned a unanimous decision against Nelson back in 2012. It’s unlikely he’ll get that fight in the near future because Werdum will be tied up with a rematch against Cain Velasquez. And should Velasquez win, there will likely be a third fight. Nelson’s annoyance grows when discussing this topic.

“They want Werdum to fight Cain and that doesn’t make any sense because Cain has fought the same guy three or four times,” Nelson bristled. “I want to do a Cain-a-Palooza. I want to do what he did where he fights everyone three or four times… Why should Cain get another chance? He got choked out. He quit.”

Nelson thinks that the UFC should adopt a tournament-style format similar to the one that Bellator utilized to decide who the No. 1 contender is. In his mind, that would create more opportunities for the rest of the division and eliminate the repetition that seems to have engulfed the weight class.

“In all pro sports, there’s some kind of tournament,” he explained. “You might go 8-8 during the season but there’s a playoffs where you can have that Cinderella run.”

Roy Nelson a Cinderella story? He might not have the shape for the dress or the glass slipper, but as long as the clock doesn’t strike midnight, he’ll always have a fighting chance.


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