"We are those old school fighters. We just go out to battle and one of us is going to win the war." - Roy Nelson
Roy Nelson always shows up.
While the qualities that make an athlete a great fighter are not necessarily the same attributes that are carried into their personal lives, one element that runs consistently through everything “Big Country” does is inside and outside of the cage is keep his word. If the Las Vegas native signs on the dotted line and commits to a bout, then it is as close to a guarantee there is in the fight game that The Ultimate Fighter season 10 winner is going to show up and sling that trademark overhand right.
Granted, there have been times like his bout with Frank Mir at UFC 130 where he carried a case of walking pneumonia into the Octagon, where the 38-year-old knockout artist should have opted out and took the fight another day, but that simply isn’t the Nelson way. While the end result of that night was one of the more underwhelming performances of his career, what Nelson battled through to keep his end of the bargain intact gives a glimpse at just who he is as a man.
While the personal side of fighter’s lives are rarely seen in the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts these days, Nelson is cut from the mold of a throwback era where keeping your commitments stood for something. If he signs to fight that’s what he’s going to do, just as if he has agreed to help a friend move there is no doubt Nelson will be there waiting by the truck when it’s time to go.
That’s just who Roy Nelson is, and when it comes to competing under the bright lights, he can always be counted on to put on a show.
“All you have in this world is your word and I try to live up to it as much as possible,” Nelson said. “I try to meet my end of any deal I commit to and do everything I can to live up to things that are within my control because at the end of the day, the only person that control how I live up to my word is me. That used to mean something in this world and I still believe it does. If I tell you I’m going to do something I’m going to do it. That’s just the way I live and that extends to all areas of my life both personal and professional. I’m a guy you can count on and I take a lot of pride in that.”
There is no doubt the business end of combat sports has blossomed into a much bigger portion of the game than it has in the past, and because of that, fighters are more cautious on whether or not they press on when dealing with injuries. Yet, Nelson operates in a different lane, as he’s made it to every one of the fights he’s signed a contract to compete in. The same will ring true for his next challenge, as the heavyweight slugger will go toe-to-toe with fellow renowned one-shot destructor Mark Hunt at Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson in Saitama, Japan on September 20.
It is a matchup fight fans have been clamoring for years to see and they will finally get their wish on Saturday night. With that in mind, Nelson has never been one to turn down a fight, and giving the fans what they want to see is a thriving motivation that pulses through the bearded slugger. That said, his preparation for the “Super Samoan” didn’t come without grief, as Nelson played double duty with training camp and rehabilitation for the broken left hand he suffered in his knockout victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira back in April.
Where some fighters may have stepped out of the scene for a lengthy recovery time, the only direction Nelson knows is forward. When the UFC called to offer the tilt with the former K-1 champion, Nelson agreed on the spot, then set his cerebral machine to work figuring out how to make everything come together the way he needed it to. The end result was a fully rehabilitated left hand that will compliment his signature right handed sleeper on fight night.
Make no mistake about it: Nelson is as tough as they come and he is honored to be stepping into the Octagon with an opponent he carries tremendous respect for in Hunt.
“The best fighters in the world compete in the UFC and that means every training camp you are going to have to push yourself further. This camp for Hunt had its challenges because I was also rehabbing my hand from the Nog fight. But this is the fight game and you are going to have obstacles and hurdles to get over in whatever you do, so I did what I always do and just dug in. The fans have been waiting to see this fight and I always give the fans what they want to see.
“This is definitely a big fight and one the fans have been wanting to see for a while. In fact, I’d go as far to say the only fight that would be bigger than this one is Roy versus whoever the champion is when I get there. People just love to see me work. What can I say? It’s always good for them.”
When Nelson steps in against his New Zealand-born counterpart this weekend in Japan, it will be a showcase bout between two of the premier knockout artists in mixed martial arts. Both men have lengthy resumes filled with highlight reel knockouts and single-shot devastation in addition to proving to be two of the most durable fighters to ever step into live competition.
While the bout is a “dream fight” for the fans, Nelson is also excited to square off with another fighter widely revered the way Hunt is. The resurgent heavyweight is beloved for the way he goes about handling his business and the Las Vegan is honored to face a man who believes in the same “warrior code” as he carries to the fight.
“I’m fighting against a K-1 Grand Prix champion,” Nelson said. “I think the only other fighter with that credential right now is Alistair Overeem. I mean…I’m fighting Mark Hunt, who is a guy that was watched by 65,000 live in the arena, then like 46 million on television. Just like myself, Hunt is a guy who people love to watch fight. He has that same charismatic appeal and just goes out and fights. He has that warrior spirit. He is that Ronin, Samurai or Shogun. I’m the same way and I just go out and fight.
“We are those old school fighters,” he added in conclusion. “We just go out to battle and one of us is going to win the war.”
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