Former IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson went from having a fight with Paul Buentello in Affliction, to having that fight cancelled, to signing a deal to face Andrei Arlovski on CBS, all in a matter of weeks. Now “Big Country” talks about the unpredictable nature of the fight game, who’s signing his paychecks, and more in this exclusive CagePotato interview.
CagePotato.com: Thanks for talking with me, Roy. I imagine it’s been an exciting week for you. When did you first hear about this offer?
Really? That late?
Yeah. I got the news about three hours before Sherdog did. Talk about the last minute.
So what was going through your mind when they offered it to you?
You know, to fight Andrei is a big step in my career, so of course I was game. And what better stage than CBS, where you’ll get maybe 8 million viewers watching. Of course that’s something that I wanted to do.
Were you still training even after they called the Oct. 11 event off?
I’m one of these guys who’s pretty 9-5 about my training most of the time, so I was still in the gym. Maybe it wasn’t pedal-to-the-metal, full throttle training, but it wasn’t like I had taken a lot of time off. I backed off a little when I found out I wouldn’t’ be fighting Buentello, but not too much. So I’m ready to step in there and fight Andrei.
It seems like this short notice doesn’t give you much time to get together a game plan and prepare specifically for Arlovski.
The biggest thing in a fight is to impose your will. It’s not so much about having a specific game plan as just going out and doing what you want to do. It doesn’t matter who it is, just as long as you’re better at what you do and you do that. It’s like playing an arcade game. Like, he doesn’t have all the grappling skills so I’ll try and make it more about grappling. Or he doesn’t do this well so I’ll do that. That part of it is the same for any fight.
A lot of people seem to be overlooking you in this fight, like they’re ready to just give Arlovski the victory.
Yeah, I’m the sleeper. I’m the fat guy. But it’s all good. For my whole career I’ve been the underdog. People always say that about me until they’ve seen me fight.
Affliction said the winner could face Fedor. Is that a motivation for you and is that a fight you’d want if you win this?
Definitely. That’s what I’ve been talking about doing since I was in the IFL. I see it as one more step towards that. I know this is going to be my toughest fight, until my next fight, which will probably be tougher. But I’m ready for that.
Since you fought Ben Rothwell and Arlovski just beat him, does it help for you to look at what Arlovski did in that fight since you know what Rothwell has?
It helps, but Ben and I are two different fighters. He’s a striker and I’m a grappler. With Ben, I beat him at his own game. The difference between us is that Ben doesn’t really go for takedowns. I still go for takedowns and I’m a good grappler, but with me you also have to worry about getting knocked out.
Does that mean you think you’re going to beat Arlovski with your grappling?
I don’t know. I mean, if it was a pure grappling match, yeah I think my grappling is better than his. But getting punched in the face changes all that. I’m not relying on that. I think I can also strike with top guys.
All these changes in plans, going from one organization to another, from no fight to a big fight on network TV, does it seem like an emotional rollercoaster right now?
All I can say is, that’s the fight game. You never know what can happen. I mean, right now you got Brock Lesnar fighting for the title against Randy Couture. And that didn’t seem to make any sense. I’m going, isn’t there another heavyweight champ named Minotauro Nogueira? But hey, that’s the way this sport works. You never know what will happen so you have to be prepared for anything.
Is this a lot of added pressure for you to be fighting on CBS against a tougher, more well-known opponent?
It’s really not added pressure for me so much as it is for Andrei. He’s never really fought on this kind of big stage on network TV, so we’re both stepping up. Yeah, it’s a little stressful, but no more stressful than the normal fight stress. You’re still worried about the same things. Where the fight is broadcast and for what organization doesn’t matter that much.
This is an Elite XC event, but you’re an Affliction fighter competing through an Affliction co-promotion. So who’s paying you? Is it Affliction, and are they paying you the same as what you were supposed to get for the Buentello bout?
I honestly couldn’t tell you right now. I don’t handle all the financial stuff. I can tell you after the fight when I get my check and I can see who’s signed it, but right now I don’t know.
Well I look forward to hearing about it after the fight. Anything else you want to add?
Just make sure to watch the fight on CBS, October 4. That, and check out RoyNelson.tv for all the latest news at the same time you guys get it.