Roy "Big Country" Nelson retained his International Fight League heavyweight championship Friday night with a first-round knockout of Brad Imes.
Most of the people who watched the fight, including Josh Gross of SI.com and Scott Holmes of Sherdog, seemed to come away impressed. But while I think Nelson has real talent, I watched him last night thinking mostly that it's a shame that he isn't dedicated enough to the sport of mixed martial arts to get into real fighting shape.
Nelson doesn't need to have washboard abs. But if he ever wants to be considered a legitimate Top 10 heavyweight -- which he told Sherdog he does -- he at least needs to be in the kind of condition that he would be able to stay fresh against a good opponent into the final round of a fight that goes the distance. And at 264 pounds, which is what he weighed in at, Nelson simply isn't in that kind of shape.
For all the criticism of Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson as just a street fighter and not a real mixed martial artist, at least it's clear that Slice trains hard for his fights. That's not clear at all of Nelson. After winning, Nelson ostentatiously rubbed his belly for the crowd. Maybe some people found that funny, but I found it annoying: He's basically flaunting the fact that he's out of shape.
The day Nelson weighs in at 230 pounds, I'll be interested in seeing what kind of MMA fighter he is. But as long as he's north of 260, he's hard to take seriously.