john lawrence interviews one of UFC’s most colorful fighters as he gets ready to step into the octagon tonight …
Heavy weight contender Roy Nelson is not your typical UFC fighter. From the way he looks, to the way he shakes his belly after a victory, he is definitely not the norm in the UFC heavyweight division. That being said, He is also a decorated black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under BJJ legend Renzo Gracie, possesses knockout power in both hands, and is willing to fight anybody you put in front of him.
Roy Nelson is fighting Saturday at UFC 161, despite the fact that he just fought Cheick Kongo at UFC 159. The UFC called and he stepped up to take the fight. So, say what you will about him, but you can’t argue about the man’s work ethic. He may not look like the average fighter, but he fights harder than most of them.
Nelson took some time out of his hectic training schedule to sit down and talk about his fight, time travel, and the fact that you just shouldn’t fight in Florida.
Pop-Break: You have a fight coming up this Saturday at UFC 161, even though you just fought April 27th. That’s not a lot of down time. How did that come about?
Roy Nelson: Well, they wanted me to fight at UFC 160 against Mark Hunt, but he was out, so they offered me to fight DC (Daniel Cormier). DC turned it down, and Travis Browne, so they started going down the list and finally I’m going to fight Stipe Miocic.
PB: Do you feel that Stipe is a step back from the caliber of fighters you have been fighting? You are one of the top five in the rankings and he hasn’t even cracked the top ten.
RN: It’s the UFC so. You know…
PB: How do you feel you compare to the other top tier fighters in your division?
RN: I think that anybody in our division can beat anybody on any given day. The way I look at it is that on my good days, I can beat anyone in the world.
PB: You definitely give it all every fight, whereas a lot of guys just seem to go through the motions and fight more to not lose. What’s your take on the guys who fight for a decision?
RN: I think the difference between most fighters and myself is that they tend to be more businessmen. They get paid fifty percent to show up and fifty percent to win, so they have to consider what the best route is for them and their families. I tend to be more of a fighter than a businessman. I try to go out there and be the best Roy Nelson that I possibly can. If I can knock your block off, then great, because that’s the business that we are in.
PB: Was there any loss that you took harder than the others? Was there just someone you really wanted to beat?
RN: I think the only loss that I’ve had that I wish I could take back would probably be the Frank Mir fight. I had walking pneumonia and my wife told me to pull out, but I didn’t listen. I was trying to right by the company. In the Arlovski fight, I learned a lot about the politics of the fight game, and how can be all set up and crooked. That was actually one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. Against Jeff Monson I learned that you just don’t fight in Florida. I try to learn something from every win and loss, and try to become a better fight.
PB: Okay, by the same token, was there a particular win that was more gratifying than the others?
RN: No, hasn’t happened yet. (laughs) Hopefully Stipe will be the one.
PB: I review all of the fights for Pop-Break, and in my review of your last fight, I discussed the contrast between you and Cheick Kongo. On one side of the ring you have this insanely ripped physical specimen, and on the other side of the ring is you. At face value, most people would think Cheick was the shoe in to win, but you destroyed him. You don’t fit the stereotypical mold of a professional fighter. Does that make your victory any more fulfilling?
RN: For me, the important thing is putting on a good show for the fans. It doesn’t matter to me What the other guy looks like. The only thing I really get a kick out of is when I fight a guy that’s on juice and I win. From a business standpoint I know that it’s stupid to even get in the ring with a guy that’s juiced up, because it gives them an unfair advantage, but as a fighter I love beating them.
PB: I think a lot of MMA fans forget about your ground game. It’s been a long time since we got to see the grappling that was so prevalent earlier on in your career.
RN: For the last few fights, I haven’t had to go to the ground that much.
PB: Earlier on in your career it seemed to be submission after submission, then it went to knockout, knockout, knockout.
RN: Well, knocking somebody out is definitely a lot easier than submitting them.
PB: Is there anybody out there that you just want to fight? Whether it’s bad blood, or just that you think it would be a great fight.
RN: I think as a fighter you want to fight the guys you grew up watching. People like Big Nog and Josh Barnett from the old school. I love the old school fights.
PB: Have you ever had to fight someone you were actually friends with?
RN: Close friends? No, and I don’t think I would, unless we were talking retirement money.
PB: Who do you think should be next following a win over Stipe?
RN: Win or lose I can fight anyone in this division. I could fight Cain Velasquez coming off a loss. Anything is possible in the UFC. It’s whatever the UFC wants and whatever will make the most money.
PB: Is there a particular fighter that you like to watch as a fan?
RN: Whoever brings it. I like watching guys like Nate and Nick Diaz. Anyone that comes to fight. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook card or a main card fight, as long as the bring it.
PB: What would be a pop culture break in your day?
RN: Any break I get in my day, I spend with my boy.
PB: Courtesy of Madison Lawrence: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
RN: Time Travel. You could see the future or you could go back and change things.
All photos credit to UFC