Roy Nelson (born June 20, 1976) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Heavyweight division. A professional competitor since 2004, he formerly competed for the UFC, EliteXC, the IFL, BodogFIGHT, and most recently for Bellator MMA. In the UFC, Nelson was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights and achieved success as a top 10 UFC Heavyweight. Nelson is also the former IFL Heavyweight Champion, competing under Ken Shamrock and the Lion's Den. He holds notable victories over Mirko Cro Cop, Cheick Kongo, and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira.
|Born||June 20, 1976|
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Other names||Big Country|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||265 lb (120 kg; 18 st 13 lb)|
|Reach||72 in (183 cm)|
|Style||Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu|
|Fighting out of||Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|Trainer||Boxing: Jeff Mayweather|
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Renzo Gracie
|Rank||Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie|
Black sash in Kung Fu
|Years active||2004–present (MMA)|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Nelson was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and attended Cimarron-Memorial High School, where he competed in wrestling, football, and baseball. Nelson briefly trained in karate and began training in Ark Wong's Ng Ga Kuen Shaolin Kung Fu when he was 15 years old. Nelson worked briefly as a warehouse worker in 1999. Nelson originally began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under UFC veteran John Lewis in 2000. After seven years working as a substitute teacher and after-school program volunteer in Clark County, Nelson began his own career in mixed martial arts. Nelson has been a long-time student of Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Renzo Gracie, who granted him a black belt on August 26, 2009. Nelson was known initially for his strong Jiu-Jitsu game, and has competed at the Abu Dhabi Grappling Championships.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Prior to Nelson's professional mixed martial arts career, he played rugby for the Las Vegas Blackjacks for two seasons (2002–2003).
Nelson made his professional mixed martial arts debut at a tournament on April 17, 2004. Nelson won both of his fights, winning the Rage on the River Heavyweight Tournament. Nelson compiled a record of 6–1 before being signed by the IFL.
As a member of Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den, Nelson was asked to become a member of the IFL's Nevada Lions in 2007, and made his promotional debut at IFL: Oakland on January 19, 2007 against veteran Vince Lucero. Nelson won via TKO in the first round.
In the 2007 IFL World Grand Prix, Nelson became the Heavyweight Champion, defeating Antoine Jaoude on December 29, 2007. Nelson successfully defended his title twice, before the IFL ceased operations.
After the IFL ceased operations Nelson took a fight with EliteXC on 10 days' notice against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski. Roy Nelson lost via KO in the second round; however, controversy broke out over Nelson being stood up by the referee in the first round from side control, while staying active and working on a kimura. He then went on to fight for Roy Jones Jr.'s Square Ring Promotions against Jeff Monson. This fight also ended in a controversial loss for Nelson. According to the TV commentators and most MMA media, Nelson won the bout. However, Monson was awarded a unanimous decision.
The Ultimate FighterEdit
Nelson was one of the sixteen fighters in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. He provided commentary on the show for multiple websites, including weekly Q&A sessions about each individual episode for USA Today's Fighting Stances and a blog for SpikeTV.com. In his first fight of the show, Nelson defeated former street-fighter Kimbo Slice via TKO stoppage in the second round with repeated punches to the head in the crucifix position. The broadcast was the highest rated MMA show in U.S. history with a 3.7 rating. The fight itself had 6 million viewers.
In the quarterfinals, Nelson defeated Justin Wren in a two-round majority decision. In the semi-finals, Nelson defeated James McSweeney via strikes in the first round again utilizing the crucifix position. He defeated Brendan Schaub at The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale to become the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. In the finale, Nelson knocked out Schaub at 3:45 into the first round with a right hook to Schaub's left temple and then hit Schaub on the ground with one punch to the face before the referee pulled Nelson off Schaub. With the win, Nelson earned a six-figure contract with the UFC.
Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit
Nelson was scheduled to fight Cheick Kongo, though the bout was cancelled after Kongo withdrew. Nelson instead faced Junior dos Santos at UFC 117 in a bout to determine the #1 contender (after Cain Velasquez) to the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Nelson lost by unanimous decision, but was able to withstand the varied attacks of dos Santos, as he was becoming the first man to take dos Santos to a decision. Nelson was scheduled to face Shane Carwin at UFC 125. Carwin, however, had to pull out of the fight due to a back injury. Nelson was pulled off the card altogether.
On November 14, 2010, UFC President Dana White announced that Nelson's UFC career would be on hold due to Nelson being contractually bound to another fight promotion. White declined to specifically name the promotion, but sources close to Nelson confirmed that Roy Jones Jr.'s Square Ring Promotions claimed to have Nelson tied down. Nelson stated on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that this is old news and that he is still able to fight in the UFC with no problems.
Nelson faced Frank Mir on May 28, 2011, at UFC 130 and lost by unanimous decision. UFC president Dana White criticized Nelson's performance after the fight for Nelson's lack of conditioning. Nelson blamed a bout with the flu for his poor performance. Nelson indicated that he has plans of cutting weight and fighting in the light heavyweight division at some point in the future.
Nelson was scheduled to face Antônio Silva on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146, but Silva was moved up to fight Cain Velasquez. Nelson was then briefly expected to face Gabriel Gonzaga. However, Gonzaga himself was forced out of the bout with an injury and replaced by Dave Herman, who Nelson knocked out in 51 seconds. He earned Knockout of the Night honors due to his performance. Joe Rogan said on the live broadcast that "When Herman sat down on his ass, he had no idea where he was".
It was announced on July 12, 2012 that Nelson would be coaching on the show, The Ultimate Fighter, against fellow heavyweight Shane Carwin, with the two expected to face each other on December 15, 2012 at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson Finale. On November 14, it was announced that Shane Carwin injured his knee and wouldn't be able to fight. On November 15, it was reported that Nelson would face Matt Mitrione at the TUF 16 Finale. Nelson defeated Mitrione via first-round TKO.
Nelson faced Stipe Miocic on June 15, 2013 at UFC 161. Miocic defeated Nelson via unanimous decision. There was speculation about his MMA future because his contract was expiring, but Nelson renewed it soon after.
Nelson faced Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on April 11, 2014 in the main event at UFC Fight Night 39. After dropping Nogueira several times with punches in the first round, Nelson finished the fight via knockout with an overhand right. The win also earned Nelson his first Performance of the Night bonus award. Nelson broke his right hand during the fight for which he required surgery in order to repair.
Nelson next faced Mark Hunt on September 20, 2014, in the main event at UFC Fight Night 52. Nelson lost the fight via knockout in the second round. It was his first loss by knockout and his first finished fight outside round 1 in a scheduled 5-round fight.
Nelson faced Antônio Silva on September 24, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 95. He won the fight by knockout in the second round. After the fight, out of frustration with what he thought was a late stoppage, Nelson push-kicked referee John McCarthy.
Nelson was expected to face Mirko Cro Cop in a rematch at Bellator 200 on May 25, 2018. However, the bout was scrapped during the week leading up to the event as Cro Cop pulled out of the fight citing an injury.
On October 27, 2020, it was revealed that Nelson had been released from his Bellator MMA contract.
Nelson is also known for having an iron chin. In fact, after his bout against fellow heavyweight Stipe Miocic at UFC 161, Nelson had broken the record for the amount of significant strikes absorbed by a fighter without being knocked out, receiving 437 strikes across his then 10-fight UFC career.
Nelson is married to Jess Nelson and they have a son, Jackson. Nelson's nickname 'Big Country' originates from his early years in MMA, when his training partners thought Nelson was from some remarkable wrestling state like Iowa or Oklahoma because of his wrestling pedigree.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
Mixed martial artsEdit
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Tournament Winner
- Fight of the Night (One time)
- Knockout of the Night (Four times)
- Performance of the Night (One time)
- International Fight League
- Rage on the River
- Rage on the River Heavyweight Tournament Winner
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|42 matches||23 wins||19 losses|
|Loss||23–19||Valentin Moldavsky||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 244||August 21, 2020||3||5:00||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States|
|Loss||23–18||Frank Mir||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 231||October 25, 2019||3||5:00||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States|
|Loss||23–17||Mirko Cro Cop||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 216||February 16, 2019||3||5:00||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States|
|Loss||23–16||Sergei Kharitonov||KO (punches and knee)||Bellator 207||October 12, 2018||1||4:59||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States|
|Loss||23–15||Matt Mitrione||Decision (majority)||Bellator 194||February 16, 2018||3||5:00||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States||Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinal.|
|Win||23–14||Javy Ayala||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 183||September 24, 2017||3||5:00||San Jose, California, United States|
|Loss||22–14||Alexander Volkov||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis||April 15, 2017||3||5:00||Kansas City, Missouri, United States|
|Win||22–13||Antônio Silva||KO (punches)||UFC Fight Night: Cyborg vs. Lansberg||September 24, 2016||2||4:10||Brasília, Brazil|
|Loss||21–13||Derrick Lewis||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: dos Anjos vs. Alvarez||July 7, 2016||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||21–12||Jared Rosholt||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson||February 6, 2016||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||20–12||Josh Barnett||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson||September 27, 2015||5||5:00||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||20–11||Alistair Overeem||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 185||March 14, 2015||3||5:00||Dallas, Texas, United States|
|Loss||20–10||Mark Hunt||KO (punch)||UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson||September 20, 2014||2||3:00||Saitama, Japan|
|Win||20–9||Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira||KO (punch)||UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson||April 11, 2014||1||3:37||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||Performance of the Night.|
|Loss||19–9||Daniel Cormier||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 166||October 19, 2013||3||5:00||Houston, Texas, United States|
|Loss||19–8||Stipe Miocic||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 161||June 15, 2013||3||5:00||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
|Win||19–7||Cheick Kongo||KO (punches)||UFC 159||April 27, 2013||1||2:03||Newark, New Jersey, United States||Knockout of the Night.|
|Win||18–7||Matt Mitrione||TKO (punches)||The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson Finale||December 15, 2012||1||2:58||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||17–7||Dave Herman||KO (punch)||UFC 146||May 26, 2012||1||0:51||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Knockout of the Night.|
|Loss||16–7||Fabrício Werdum||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 143||February 4, 2012||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||16–6||Mirko Cro Cop||TKO (punches)||UFC 137||October 29, 2011||3||1:30||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||15–6||Frank Mir||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 130||May 28, 2011||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||15–5||Junior dos Santos||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 117||August 7, 2010||3||5:00||Oakland, California, United States|
|Win||15–4||Stefan Struve||TKO (punches)||UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi||March 31, 2010||1||0:39||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States||Knockout of the Night.|
|Win||14–4||Brendan Schaub||KO (punch)||The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale||December 5, 2009||1||3:45||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Won The Ultimate Fighter 10 Tournament. Knockout of the Night.|
|Loss||13–4||Jeff Monson||Decision (unanimous)||SRP: March Badness||March 21, 2009||3||5:00||Pensacola, Florida, United States|
|Loss||13–3||Andrei Arlovski||KO (punch)||EliteXC: Heat||October 4, 2008||2||3:14||Sunrise, Florida, United States|
|Win||13–2||Brad Imes||KO (punch)||IFL: Connecticut||May 16, 2008||1||3:55||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States||Defended the IFL Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||12–2||Fabiano Scherner||TKO (punches)||IFL: Las Vegas||February 29, 2008||1||3:20||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the IFL Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||11–2||Antoine Jaoude||KO (punch)||IFL: World Grand Prix Finals||December 29, 2007||2||0:22||Uncasville, Connecticut, United States||Won the IFL Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||10–2||Bryan Vetell||TKO (punches)||IFL: World Grand Prix Semifinals||November 3, 2007||3||1:01||Chicago, Illinois, United States||IFL 2007 Heavyweight GP Semi-final.|
|Win||9–2||Shane Ott||Decision (unanimous)||IFL: Las Vegas||June 16, 2007||3||4:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||8–2||Ben Rothwell||Decision (split)||IFL: Moline||April 7, 2007||3||4:00||Moline, Illinois, United States|
|Win||8–1||Mario Rinaldi||TKO (punches)||BodogFIGHT: Costa Rica Combat||February 17, 2007||1||2:38||San José, Costa Rica|
|Win||7–1||Vince Lucero||TKO (punches)||IFL: Oakland||January 19, 2007||1||1:55||Oakland, California, United States|
|Loss||6–1||Josh Curran||Decision (unanimous)||BodogFIGHT: Clash of Nations||December 16, 2006||3||5:00||Saint Petersburg, Russia|
|Win||6–0||Jerome Smith||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||FightForce: Butte Brawl 2||July 22, 2006||1||4:13||Butte, Montana, United States|
|Win||5–0||Jason Godsey||Submission (rear-naked choke)||FightForce: Butte Brawl 1||May 6, 2006||1||4:42||Butte, Montana, United States|
|Win||4–0||Michael Buchkovich||Submission (rear-naked choke)||World Extreme Fighting 17||April 1, 2006||1||0:56||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||3–0||Ray Seraile||TKO (submission to punches)||PXC 3: Return of the Enforcer||August 28, 2004||2||3:41||Mangilao, Guam|
|Win||2–0||Jerry Vrbanovic||Decision (split)||Rage on the River||April 17, 2004||3||3:00||Redding, California, United States||Won the Rage on the River Heavyweight Tournament.|
|Win||1–0||Bo Cantrell||Submission (hammerlock)||3||2:52||Rage on the River Heavyweight Tournament Semi-final.|
Mixed martial arts exhibition recordEdit
|Exhibition record breakdown|
|3 matches||3 wins||0 losses|
|Win||3–0||James McSweeney||TKO (punches)||The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights||1||4:13||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Semi-finals.|
|Win||2–0||Justin Wren||Decision (majority)||The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights||2||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Quarter-finals.|
|Win||1–0||Kimbo Slice||TKO (punches)||The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights||2||2:01||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Preliminary bout.|
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Bellator Countdown - Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione: Episode 1
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