Roy Nelson won’t be fighting anytime soon.
The long-time UFC heavyweight was issued a nine-month suspension by the Brazilian Superior Justice Court of MMA (STJDMMA) for assault and unethical behavior following his knockout win over Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva on Sept. 24 at UFC Fight Night 95 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Nelson kicked veteran referee "Big" John McCarthy after the bout because he thought McCarthy took too long to stop the contest, forcing Nelson to hurt Silva more than he needed to win the fight. Later that night, at the post-fight press conference, Nelson apologized to McCarthy, but added that he "wouldn't take it back."
"It just hurt me," Nelson said, "that I've got to keep on hitting a guy that doesn't need to be hit."
The maximum penalty, according to the STJDMMA, would be a 25-month suspension and $40,000 fine. However, the court informed MMA Fighting on Wednesday that STJDMMA president Marcelo Sedlmayer Jorge had decided to hand Nelson a nine-month suspension, retroactive to Sept. 29, as well as a $24,000 fine.
According to the STJDMMA, Nelson mentioned in his defense that he was afraid due to some pre-fight situations, including the way Brazilian MMA fans behaved at the weigh-ins. The STJDMMA also said that Nelson mentioned his complicated relationship with McCarthy, but stated that he never intended to hurt the referee.
The STJDMMA accepted Nelson’s explanation, but said that it wouldn't be enough to avoid punishment, because "the athlete has an obligation to respect the honor, preserve the health, and physical and moral integrity of the referee," and nothing justified Nelson's actions.
Jorge initially considered handing Nelson a one-year suspension with $33,000 fine. However, based on Nelson’s history, and the fact that he didn't intend to hurt McCarthy, the STJDMMA reduced his punishment to a nine-month suspension and $24,000 fine.
Nelson still has a chance to return before June 29 though. The STJDMMA is offering the heavyweight a chance to reduce his punishment to a six-month suspension and $13,700 fine if the UFC allows him to formally apologize to McCarthy inside the Octagon or during some form of press conference, preferably if McCarthy is attending, before Dec. 31. If he does that, Nelson would be free to compete after March 29.