This weekend Roy Nelson lost decisively to Stipe Miocic. Inevitably following a loss many people claim that nelson should drop down to LHW in the belief that at this weight he can be more successful due to his size largely being due to unnecessary fat. Now whilst on the surface this may seem sensible as Nelson only stands at 6 foot tall and with a 71 reach which is a frame more suited to LHW there are a number of problems with this.
Firstly, for Nelson to actually lose the weight would be a significant (but not impossible) hurdle to overcome. Against Fabricio Werdum he weighed in at 246 pounds (one of his lightest weigh ins) but in his most recent fight at UFC 161 he weighed in at 260 pounds and seemed to have put on some of the weight that he'd previously lost. This suggests to me that Nelson is currently unwilling to drop weight, despite at times claiming that he would drop the weight if he received enough likes on his Facebook page.
In addition to this even if he was willing to drop the weight this would take a significant amount of time for him to drop it as he would have to lose a significant amount of fat. As this process could be lengthy this would mean that he would have to sit out of fights for a while meaning that he may miss out on one or two pay days.
Secondly, part of Nelson's fight style can be attributed to his body type. He has at times in his career used his body to smother opponents (not his main ground attack but still an important one). This could mean that on the ground he would be less able to use this tactic. In addition part of his appeal to the public is his size, because an every day man may see Nelson and think "If he can do that, imagine what I could do", and without this is unlikely to be anywhere near as popular.
Lastly and most importantly, many people have said that if Nelson drops down in weight he'll finally be able to perform at the weight class suited to him, however this is flawed due to the relative shallowness of the HW division. At HW Roy Nelson will quite comfortably be in the top 10 of fighters in the world as his skill level is high enough to perform well. However whenever Nelson fights against someone in the top 5-8 (i.e. the elite) of the division he almost invariably fails (Dos Santos, Werdum etc.). This suggests that perhaps if he dropped down in weight he wouldn't necessarily be able to perform to the level that he's used to and may not even crack the top 15-20 fighters (note of course that even LHW isn't that deep of a division in itself though).
Therefore due to the reasons of:
- Willingness and ability to drop weight
- Popularity and fighting style
- Actual skill level
it would seem that it is inadvisable for Nelson to drop weight. In particular if he decides to sign with a company such as Bellator he could be unequivocally successful at HW perhaps even being the champion of the organisation.