The old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has been highly applicable in the business of MMA these days. Many fighters who were released or had lapsed contracts with the UFC ended up being signed by Bellator, which included some marquee names such as Chael Sonnen, Rory MacDonald, and most recently, Roy Nelson.
“Big Country” became a part of Bellator’s roster late last week, but gave no specific reason for his move. On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, Nelson finally spoke up, and like many of his former UFC colleagues, it was all rooted to seemingly better opportunities under Scott Coker.
“Yeah, I think it’s just one of those things — what’s best for my family, not what’s best for everybody else,” Nelson told Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting). “The one thing about working with Scott Coker, I’ve never heard a bad thing about Scott Coker. And that means a lot, especially in our sport.”
One thing that UFC fighters lost over the past couple of years is sponsorship money. Since the company signed a deal with apparel giant Reebok, everyone was made to forgo their own gear sponsors and were left with no choice but to wear their designated uniforms.
The opportunity to away from Reebok is another reason why Nelson jumped ship, as he believes his own sponsors can still earn him a lot of money.
“That’s the one thing I’m very excited about. That’s definitely a plus, than being in the UFC versus being an employee and getting a ‘wear this uniform,’” Nelson said.
“I think it all depends on who you are and how marketable [you are], because sponsorship is about marketability. We’ll just use UFC, if you’re on the Reebok deal and you’re making $15,000 and nobody knew who you were and you’re just like, I’ve been fighting here for the last five years, blah blah blah, and you’re making $15,000 and you’re like, ‘yes!’
“And then there were people that were names and you hit 15 grand and you’re like, um, you just took my salary away. I made more from sponsorship than I did from fighting. I did that for the longest time.”
Ultimately, Nelson believes this new phase in his career would greatly help in terms of improving his quality of life.
“It was more I think of just understanding what’s better for my family. I went back and talked to my wife and then we kind of went from there and decided what we needed to do for quality of life, things that will improve our life from stress from the stuff that I’ve been through.”