Photo by Esther Lin For MMA Fighting
After a successful "heavyweights only" main card for UFC 146, the dust has finally settled, and fans everywhere are already playing the matchmaker game. All five HW fights on the card were fantastic finishes, but some injuries were incurred both with the winners and losers. Cain Velasquez will be out for six months with a broken hand, which is unfortunate since he seems to be the next in line to challenge Junior dos Santos for the belt.
One man, who would like nothing more than to stand in Cain's place, is Roy Nelson. His knockout victory over Dave Herman has put him back in the win column, and added extra spark to a stellar card. I recently interviewed Roy, and got his thoughts on sponsors, the division as a whole, and his firm stance on steroids.
Stephie Daniels: There were recent reports that you were lacking sponsors, and that Dana White said that your beard and mullet were holding you back from potential sponsors. What are your thoughts on that?
Roy Nelson: I think people are getting all this sponsorship stuff a little confused. I have plenty of sponsors, and I'm the first American that Pretorian has sponsored. It's not about the sponsorship. I think if anything came up, it was talking about how I think I was sponsored by the UFC before, and they never paid their bill. I think that might have been the thing that set it over the edge, like how the UFC kind of controls the sponsorships, and you can't really do what you want. They control a lot of that.
As far as companies and me, I go hand in hand with them. I give them more bang for their buck than any other athlete. I'm actually pretty clean. I don't have any DUIs or anything like that. I'm pretty good. I'm a clean cut guy like that.
Stephie Daniels: I recently saw an interesting Twitter exchange between yourself and Victor Conte regarding random drug testing. Can you elaborate a little on your stance on this?
Continued in the full entry.
Roy Nelson: My wife is pregnant right now, and throughout my career, I've kind of just taken it and taken it and taken it [referring to when his opponents used PEDs] because I can always fend for myself and my wife. Now I have a baby on the way, and that's like taking money from my kid.
I used to think when I'd fight and beat up people that are doing the stuff that they are not supposed to be doing, I just looked at it as a moral victory for myself. It was like, 'Hey, I just beat that guy, even though he was on the stuff' or he might have beaten me because he was on the stuff, but now I realize that he's actually just taking money from me. I think from now on we should just do random drug tests, because we just did it for this heavyweight card, and it changed the whole landscape of it.
Stephie Daniels: Talk about your constant sparring partner changes and the financial burden it put on you.
Roy Nelson: The thing is, you get set on one guy, and you bring in people for that specific guy, and then it kept changing. By the time I got to Pee Wee, I was already out of money. The thing is, Bigfoot still fought on the card, so I don't know why I was punished, when it was easier to just switch Cain's opponent.
Stephie Daniels: You've expressed interest in holding down a stint in pro wrestling simultaneously with your MMA career. Is this something you're actively pursuing, and have you spoken with Dana or the Zuffa brass about it?
Roy Nelson: Why not? I mean, the way I look at it, wrestling is a totally different sport from MMA. I look at it like boxing, which is not even in the same league. It's kind of like Bo Jackson playing baseball and football. Some athletes can master two sports, but most are only good at one. I'm sure that some of the guys that are in the UFC would still be trying to play football and fight if they could.
I think me and my wife will actually be talking to them about it, and trying to find out. I'm sure if they can give the blessing for Brock to go over there and do his thing, I don't see why not. All it is doping is adding another demographic and adding more viewers to the UFC brand.
Stephie Daniels: If the UFC were to allow you to do both, is there someone in mind you would like to have your first match with? Would you stick with "Big Country" or maybe try a different handle for wrestling?
Roy Nelson: I'd definitely stick with Big Country because that's the brand. I think I was talking to King Mo, and he wanted to do like The Oreo Bandits, or something like that. I was like, 'No, I don't like The Oreo Bandits' [laughs], he likes it, but I don't. I was thinking more along the lines of The Country Kings or something like that, for a tag team. Mine is a lot more smooth and marketable than The Oreo Bandits [laughs].
First match, I would want to fight Brock Lesnar, whether a fight for real in the UFC, or a great professional wrestling match, to give the fans what they want to see.
Stephie Daniels: The word is that Cain is getting the next title shot. Do you agree with that decision?
Roy Nelson: Cain is one of those guys that's done really well. I just don't want to be one of those guys that's stuck fighting the same opponents again and again. They do that stuff, though. I think Brock went 1-1 and beat Heath Herring to get the title shot.
Stephie Daniels: It wasn't too long ago that you entertained fans at the weigh-ins with a bubble body suit. Recently, Dana has spoken out against these type antics at weigh-ins, and basically said that he's not a fan of them, and that people should just come to fight. What do you think about that?
Roy Nelson: We're in a very individual sport, but they like us not to be so individual. They'd rather have you look like every other cookie cutter guy, and have you believe that you're replaceable when you're really not. We're supposed to be at the top of the food chain, the elite of the elite. How many people play football? A lot of people, but there's only so many in the NFL.
Stephie Daniels: Now that you're past Pee Wee, and it's safe to look forward, is there anyone you have your eye on to fight next?
Roy Nelson: I've actually made requests before, but I've never gotten who I wanted, so I'm just that fighter that gets whatever scraps I can get, going 'Please can I have some mo?' [laughs] If Brock comes back, I've already said that I'd like to take that fight, but who knows. Anything can happen.
Stephie Daniels: You mentioned many of the athletes are on "the stuff", and it's clear that means PEDs. What percentage of the roster would you say are using?
Roy Nelson: Before, I used to say 50/50, but that number is way higher now, of people I know personally. If I went through the people that I've personally fought in my career, that number would probably be 60-70%.
Stephie Daniels: You've fought in several different organizations in your career. Would you say that the rate of use is higher in the UFC or outside the UFC?
Roy Nelson: Higher in the UFC. When you have more money, you can spend more money on these things. Drugs are an expensive luxury.
Stephie Daniels: Aside from dos Santos, and yourself, who do you feel can dominate the division?
Roy Nelson: The one thing about the heavyweight division, it's usually about who has a better day. There's a couple guys that if matched up with the same guy, might win seven out of ten times, or something like that, but I don't think there's anyone that will really get a clean sweep.
Follow Roy via his Twitter, @RoyNelsonMMA