Following his unanimous decision loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 161, most fans assumed Heavyweight Roy Nelson would be moving on to Bellator given his rocky relationship with UFC boss Dana White. Nelson declined an offered contract extension before the fight, gambling that he'd beat Miocic and have more bargaining power. Unfortunately he lost the fight.
However all is not lost for UFC fans who want to see The Ultimate Fighter season 10 winner fighting in the Octagon. Nelson's contract includes an exclusive negotiating period with the UFC that lasts until August. His manager Mike Kogan spoke to Steven Marrocco and sounded optimistic:
"We're actively talking. I'm sure it's not going to take a few months to make a deal, if there is a deal to be made.
"We're not there yet, but we're not out of the ballpark, either. Their offer is reasonable, and there's some things that Roy wants in there, and that's why it's called a negotiation."I think people put so much stock into whether Dana likes you or not. They automatically assume if he hates you, your life's over and you have nowhere else to go and he doesn't want to see you again. That's not true.
"The truth of the matter is, you look at somebody like Tito Ortiz, he's done way worse stuff than Roy has, and he had a very prosperous career. UFC's a very professional organization. It doesn't matter if they like you or not. As long as you're performing and the fans like you, it's good enough.
"We try to have an open conversation with the UFC and see how they measure his value," Kogan said. "I don't have the data that the UFC has to be able to measure it. I don't have the true ratings numbers, the four-hour ratings numbers if he's fighting on TV, (or) pay-per-view numbers from all the events. All I have is the fact that people love to watch him fight. I've been around this game long enough to know that doesn't automatically mean he gets millions of dollars. But it does have a value. At the end of the day, if the fans are blowing the roof off every time he comes out to fight, and then spend the whole fight on their feet yelling and screaming - if that's not worth anything, then how do you measure anybody's worth?"
For their part, Bellator would presumably love to sign a high-profile fighter like Roy Nelson. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, by far the biggest ex-UFC name to go to Bellator, is already calling Nelson out. Properly promoted a Jackson vs Nelson bout on Spike TV would likely be the biggest fight in the history of Bellator.
Stay tuned for Bloody Elbow as Nelson's negotiations continue.