Roy Nelson made the jump to Bellator MMA after fighting for nearly eight years under the UFC banner. Now, at 42 years old and nearing the end of his combat sports career, “Big Country” is looking for a title fight.
‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 10 winner scored some spectacular knockouts while competing in the UFC’s heavyweight division, but he never got a crack at championship gold. Now fighting for a promotion without a heavyweight champion, “Big Country” is looking for a champ to fight:
“All I want is an established heavyweight champion so I can fight for them belt; I want to fight someone for the belt,” Nelson told Sherdog.com. “The Bellator heavyweight division needs a champion so I can fight him. There needs to be an established champ already; it’s been years since Bellator has had one.”
Bellator hasn’t had a heavyweight champion in more than two years, when former divisional title holder Vitaly Minakov was stripped of the belt for inactivity. Back in 2016, Bellator’s heavyweight division was extremely thin on top-level talent; Cheick Kongo was one of the first former UFC fighters to sign with the Viacom-backed promotion in 2013, but fellow UFC heavyweights didn’t join him until a few years later.
Since Minakov was stripped of the belt, Bellator has really beefed up its heavyweight division, signing the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir, and Matt Mitrione.
Many of those marquee names are now in Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix, which will determine a heavyweight champion once the tournament is completed. In February, Mitrione defeated Nelson in a rematch of their 2012 bout in the first round of the grand prix, while Emelianenko turned back the clock with a stunning 48-second knockout over Mir to advance to the semifinals in April.
Speaking of “Meathead”, Nelson says he still has unfinished business with his fellow “TUF 10” alum. “Big Country” scored a first-round finish over Mitrione while the two fought for the UFC, making them even at 1-1 following “Meathead’s” majority decision victory in their rematch under the Bellator banner.
“I still want to fight Matt again. He had accused me of cheating for wrestling him in our second fight. He’s definitely still a guy I want to fight [again],” Nelson said. “I’ll probably fight Meathead again; he’s still a guy on my radar. Bellator talked about me fighting Rampage [Quinton Jackson], but he would rather fight a 185-pound guy in Wanderlei [Silva] instead.”
While Nelson is aiming for a trilogy bout with Mitrione, any route that will lead him to Bellator gold is fine by him.
“If someone gets hurt, I’ll fill in [as a replacement]. Really, any way to get to the belt is fine by me.”