Roy Nelson pushed his chips all-in on Saturday night. Riding a tremendous three-fight knockout streak into the last fight of his TUF 10 contract, Nelson was poised to make a remarkable jump in pay scale if he just could get by unranked Stipe Miocic at UFC 161.
Unfortunately for Nelson, things didn't quite work out as planned. But if "Big Country" was looking for sympathy, he didn't need to turn towards his boss, UFC President Dana White.
"He was fighting under The Ultimate Fighter contract and he called Joe Silva and said, ‘Listen, I'm fighting tough guys here, and I'm winning.' And Joe said, ‘You're right. We're going to get rid of The Ultimate Fighter contract and give you another contract,'" White explained during Saturday's post-fight scrum. "So Joe Silva offers him a deal for more money, and Roy said that's not enough. This was a while ago. And Joe says, ‘Okay, well this is my offer. I'll rip up the old contract and give you this one.' He said no. Joe said, ‘But it's more money.' [Roy said,] ‘I don't care, it's not what I want.' He f--king fought under The Ultimate Fighter contract instead of taking the new contract from Joe, which was significantly more money.'
"That's the business. Again, there's a lot of reasons why I respect Roy Nelson. Roy Nelson rolled the dice tonight. He had a high stakes poker game tonight, and he lost."
White and Nelson's history is long and tenuous, which is why so much intrigue was generated by his UFC 161 fight. If Nelson won, he'd emerge a people's champion, the owner of a top-5 ranking and suitcase crammed with negotiating leverage.
Instead, Nelson fell short, leaving White to reflect on why the heavyweight has frustrated him for so many years.
"Roy came to me one time and said, ‘I'm having a hard time getting sponsors,'" explained White. "I said, well that's weird. I can't understand why you would have a hard time getting sponsors. How about you cut the hair, lose some weight, get rid of the walk-in song ‘I'm Fat,' and take yourself seriously? You're a tough guy, you've got a lot of talent, you're a very well-rounded fighter. He said, ‘Okay.' I saw him at the next press conference -- his mullet was longer, and he grew a beard down to here, and he was, maybe, six pounds less than the last time I'd seen him. I said, it's good to see you took my advice. It's just, don't complain to me.
"Who wants to put their logo on that?" White continued, "Nobody. Nobody wants to put their logo on that. Burger King? Well that's what he thought. Did you ever watch a Burger King commercial? It's all handsome guys, skinny, and pretty girls. You think Burger King wants people to think that that's what you look like if you eat Burger King?
"People don't relate to him in the way that he looks. If people related to him in the way that he looks, there'd be sponsors stuck all over him. ... What people relate to is that he's knocked out 12 people in a row. You tune in and you watch this guy who looks like he could barely walk up the stairs to the Octagon, and he goes in there are knocks out these guys like Cheick Kongo, this physical specimen -- he hits him in the neck and knocks him out. That's why people like Roy Nelson."
White's sentiment is exactly why the pair's relationship has become such compelling theater. In thought, Nelson represents MMA's counter-culture; the idiosyncratic, mulletted heavyweight who has no qualms about battling ‘the man.' Yet both individuals still function within the employee-employer relationship, and despite his rotund shortcomings, White still clearly respects and values the skillset Nelson brings with him into the cage.
So it's telling that even in the face of each man's stubbornness, both White and Nelson voiced a willingness to continue their partnership on Saturday.
"He wanted to stay under The Ultimate Fighter contract instead of taking the new deal that was offered to him," White said in closing. "It's more money. That's why he can't be knocked out. That's what I told his wife tonight when she was sitting next to me. I said, he's so thick-headed, you couldn't knock him out if you hit him with a f--king truck.
"[But] it's not like we're saying, ‘We're not signing Roy Nelson. We hate him. We don't want him here.' We're trying to come to a deal with Roy Nelson.
"I want Roy Nelson in the UFC."
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Miocic stuns Nelson. Unheralded firefighter Stipe Miocic thoroughly dominated top-5 heavyweight contender Roy Nelson en route to a surprising unanimous decision victory at UFC 161. (Video.) Afterward, Nelson opened the door for a return to the UFC, while a jubilant Miocic reflected back on how he pulled off the upset.
Evans victorious. In a battle to maintain relevance atop the light heavyweight division, former champion Rashad Evans eked out a split decision victory over Dan Henderson at the main event of UFC 161. (Video.) Several pros scored it the other way, but ultimately the Fight Metric report agreed with the final outcome.
Pettis update. Over the weekend, a "very distraught" Anthony Pettis dropped out of his scheduled featherweight title bout against Jose Aldo at UFC 163 due to a torn meniscus. "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung took his place. According to Dana White, Pettis won't require surgery to fix the damage and could return to full health within six weeks. When he does, "he could fight Aldo or he could fight the winner of [Ben] Henderson and T.J. Grant."
Henderson responds. Not long after Anthony Pettis campaigned to replace T.J. Grant in UFC 164's main event, UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson offered this blithe response: "I'll just fight and let the others worry about talking their way into fights."
Burkman rolls. Fighting in the main event of WSOF 3, Josh Burkman avenged his 2006 loss to Jon Fitch by pulling off a remarkable, 41-second 'Submission of the Year' victory, one which saw Burkman play referee during his own fight while Fitch laid unconscious on the mat, choked out by a guillotine.
White criticizes NSAC. In the wake of Burkman vs. Fitch, UFC President Dana White heavily criticized referee Steve Mazzagatti and the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Nonetheless, NSAC executive director Keith Kizer viewed the issue as a non-story.
Pat Barry before Saturday night:
Pat Barry after Saturday night:
If we're being honest, this was the real show-stealer of the weekend. The most ridiculous walkoff submission I can remember ever seeing.
That feeling you get from watching yourself shock the world? Yeah, I'd imagine that's a pretty good feeling.
Folks, in case you didn't know, T.J. Grant is a classy fella.
SCORING HENDO VS. EVANS
The judges made the right decision there but the 2nd round was close! Hendo slowed down in round 3, allowed Rashad to take over. #ufc161— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) June 16, 2013
I thought Hendo sneaked it.— Scott jorgensen (@Scottjorgensen) June 16, 2013
1-Dan, 2-Rashad,3-Rashad. 29-28 Rashad. IMO.— Vinny Magalhaes (@VinnyMMA) June 16, 2013
WHAT?!??!!?! #ufc161— Cyrille Diabaté (@CyrilleDiabate) June 16, 2013
Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) June 16, 2013
I think it goes to hendo 29-28 but I'm not sure— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) June 16, 2013
COUNTRY FRIED LETDOWN
@roynelsonmma is a G— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) June 16, 2013
This is the Miocic I've been waiting for. This performance & win makes him a top heavyweight period! Stipe fulfilling potential = scary 😱— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) June 16, 2013
Good to see a game plan being followed in MMA. Love the evolution— Duane Ludwig (@DUANEBANGCOM) June 16, 2013
I want thank all my fans gave 110% will always be back better then last http://t.co/mkvJXBIplU— Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) June 16, 2013
The love and support on here is overwhelming. Thank you so much. I will read every single tweet tomorrow but for now...thank you. @ufc— Stipe Miocic (@smiocic) June 16, 2013
And thank you @roynelsonmma for a hell of a fight. You are amazing man.— Stipe Miocic (@smiocic) June 16, 2013
A MINOR SETBACK
MA BEST FRIEND!!!! http://t.co/66WaeZL4Dd— Pat Barry (@HypeOrDie) June 16, 2013
THIS CRAZY EYE DID NOT LIKE THE PLANE RIDE!!! http://t.co/ix2thmawra— Pat Barry (@HypeOrDie) June 16, 2013
ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT TO SAY!!! http://t.co/ezHIhDdDHB— Pat Barry (@HypeOrDie) June 17, 2013
ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT IT
Ufc has dumped two Shitty cards on my fellow Canadians in recent past... I apologize for ufc, they don't understand how amazing the fans are— John Alessio (@johnalessio79) June 16, 2013
I promise UFC 162 is going to be better!— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) June 16, 2013
I wonder if I have time to rub one out before the main event. #ufc161— Justin Buchholz (@jbmma155) June 16, 2013
INJURY BUG BITES AGAIN
Minor set back, still training hard waiting to hear what's officially happening with my fight, thanks @danawhite for the personal phone call— Ricardo Lamas (@RicardoLamasMMA) June 15, 2013
I'm ready!!!!!!!!— Chan Sung Jung (@KoreanZombieMMA) June 14, 2013
Avenged. http://t.co/agVq9pVAGm— Joshua Burkman (@JoshBurkman) June 16, 2013
Sorry to everyone who has supported me. Went for the slam instead of defending the choke. I'll be back.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) June 15, 2013
Glad Burkman stopped. Mazzagatti is a clueless idiot who will hurt someone and continue to ruin guys legacies. Much respect Josh— Dana White (@danawhite) June 15, 2013
NSAC needs to seriously do something!! When you have been a ref that long and still don't know what u r doing its time to go away!!!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) June 15, 2013
THE (INTERIM) CHAMP WANTS BACK IN
CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP
McDummy Bad News: Fighting Me Good News: Handicapped Parking— Jake Ellenberger (@EllenbergerMMA) June 15, 2013
Announced over the weekend (Friday, June 14, 2013 - Sunday, June 16, 2013):
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day is a keepin' it real moment, courtesy of Josh Hall: Somewhere, TJ Grant is Seething...
If you watched UFC 161 last night, I am truly sorry for you. The card was bad on paper, and somehow worked out to being even worse than expected. The most significant development of the evening took place not in the cage, but on the post fight show after the fact. What, you didn't watch it?
Anthony Pettis came onto the post fight show on Fuel with the following announcement:
"I can be 100-percent ready to fight Benson Henderson in Milwaukee. With all due respect to TJ Grant, Milwaukee is my town and the fight with Ben is the fight everyone has wanted for years. If it works out, great; if not, I will get my shot very soon. But I think we all know which fight the fans want to see and the entire city of Milwaukee!"
Dana White responded, not so optimistic that Pettis can be ready to fight that soon:
"Anthony Pettis' knee is not bad, but it's not good. He doesn't require surgery, but he's going to have to go into therapy."
White also said he was going to have Pettis flown out to Vegas for a second opinion from Dr. Steven Saunders before making any decisions regarding his next fight. There have been different time frames mentioned for the recovery time for Pettis, and approaching the situation with caution is probably a good idea.
Okay, let me stop here for a minute. I hate to say this, because I am a big fan of Anthony Pettis, but him requesting to be inserted into this title fight is a slap in the face to TJ Grant and one of the bigger signs of disrespect I have seen from on fighter to another as of late. I know this fight is in Pettis' hometown of Milwaukee, but the only reason he isn't on this card is that he didn't want to wait to fight Benson Henderson. He made a choice, and now he thinks TJ Grant should be the person to suffer the consequences?
The UFC was nice enough to acquiesce to the request from Pettis for a title fight at 145 pounds against Jose Aldo, despite the fact that he had never fought at that weight in his career and would be cutting in front of a number of deserving contenders (Korean Zombie, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson). The UFC gave an inch, now "Showtime" is trying to take a mile.
This title fight is already booked. If Pettis was trying to step in for an injured opponent, then that would be great. But it takes a serious lack of perspective to try and alter an already scheduled title fight because he got hurt and missed his shot.
TJ Grant is 5-0 in the UFC at 155 pounds, while Pettis is 3-1. Grant is coming off a shocking total destruction of Gray Maynard and has not lost since 2010. For him to get pulled from this fight to suit the whims of Anthony Pettis would be an absolute sham, and would do a disservice to the credibility of the sport. Anthony, you ask for next. You don't tell somebody to get off the court (or cage in this instance). That's just not right.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.