Roy Nelson is definitely one of the biggest fighters in MMA, both physically and popularity wise. Big Country made his way to the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter season 10, The Heavyweights. One of the better TUF series in recent memory. Nelson was a cocky fighter then, projecting the impression that he thought TUF was below the former IFL Champion. Indeed he was surprised when Kimbo Slice, a bigger name than Nelson was entered into the house.
TUF was an easy ride for Nelson, beating Brendon Schaub convincingly and earning his first in a long line of impressive bonuses. The
big belly fighter then went on to destroy, young Dutchman Stefan Struve in a 39-second Knockout of The Night victoy. However the rise of Big Country was soon to be derailed as he dropped decision defeats to both Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir. Important to note though, that Nelson is the only man to take the current champion the distance in his UFC career.
Even after the defeats Nelson’s stock with the fans kept rising, you would expect a defeat to have an adverse affect on both your popularity and standing with in the organization. However, both of Nelson defeats were exciting slugfests and that was commended by fans. The biggest change to at this point in the story was the dissatisfaction of UFC President Dana White over the physical condition of Nelson. The size of Nelson has always been a running joke between fans and media alike, because we had never seen a successful athlete look that way before or not care that much about what he is eating.
Nelson began to slim down, and I think that fans became more affectionate to him because of this. Nelson didn’t need to slim down, he could still defeat middle of the road fighters all day. Fans seen how he was working, to slim down and progress his career and that made his popularity rise. He went on to gain a decision victory over legend Mirko Flipovic but dropped a Fight of the Night loss to Brazilian Fabricio Werdum soon after. To top it off, Nelson finished Dave Herman with a one punch knockout at the most recent UFC 146 (pictured right)
There it is, a run down of Nelson’s climb in the UFC. It is difficult to say if he will ever be the UFC Champion, does he have the skill to beat the likes of Dos Santos’s boxing as he is a different fighter from their last encounter? Who knows, the UFC heavyweight division is the most stacked in the organization one win could propel Nelson to the top of the division. Roy Nelson is the “Mr. Reliable” of the UFC, someone who will pull off amazing wins, and in defeat the fights are still close. The fans love him, and the media love him too – everything the UFC wants. We shall wait an see what is next for Big Country.