Renzo Gracie black belt Roy “Big Country” Nelson began his MMA career in April of 2004 at the Rage on the River in Redding, C.A. During the course of the four-man heavyweight tournament, he submitted Bo Cantrell with a hammerlock and won a hard-fought split decision over Jerry Vrbanovic. Four months later, in Guam, he forced Ray Seraile to tapout to strikes at PXC 3: Return of the Enforcer. Returning to his native Nevada, he submitted Michael Buchkovich via rear naked choke before chalking up back-to-back first-round submission wins in the Fight Force promotion of Butte, M.T. Nelson’s first professional loss occurred in St. Petersburg, Russia during his Bodog Fight debut against Josh Curran.
Splitting his time between the Bodog Fight promotion and the burgeoning IFL, Nelson went 7-1 in his next eight fights. His only loss was a split decision to “Big” Ben Rothwell at IFL: Moline. Nelson got back on track immediately with a unanimous decision win over Shane Ott. He then entered and won the IFL 2007 Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Bryan Vetell and Antoine Jaoude. Nelson went on to defend his IFL Heavyweight belt twice against Fabio Scherner and Brad Imes.
After the demise of the IFL promotion, Nelson suffered back-to-back losses in two highly controversial bouts. He suffered his first knockout loss to Andrei Arlovski in a match that contained a questionable standup by the referee. Nelson was in side control hunting for a kimura when the ref stood the pair up, facilitating the eventual KO. He also lost a unanimous decision to Jeff Monson that was criticized by fans and broadcasters alike, as almost all thought Nelson had won the fight.
Following the Monson fight, Nelson entered and won the Ultimate Fighter Season Ten tournament . He defeated Kimbo Slice, Justin Wren and James McSweeney in exhibition matches en route to the Ultimate Fighter Finale. There he defeated Brendan Schaub via KO, earning the first of two consecutive Knockout of the Night awards. The second KOTN award came against the 6’11” Dutch kickboxer Stefan Struve. He dropped unanimous decisions in his next two efforts against Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir. The two battles highlighted both the strength of his chin – Nelson was the first man to last three full rounds with Junior – and his weakness: cardio. After losing two fights in a row and being publicly chided by Dana White for his quick fade in the later rounds, Nelson turned to former opponent Mir in Las Vegas to prepare for his win-or-walk fight against Mirko Crocop at UFC 137. A third-round TKO of Crocop put Nelson back in the win column, and although he lost his next fight to Fabricio Werdum, the bout was given Fight of the Night honors.
Nelson followed up his Fight of the Night performance with his third Knockout of the Night over Dave “Pee Wee” Herman at UFC 146. He then returned to the Ultimate Fighter house as a coach on season sixteen of the popular reality show. Nelson faced Matt Mittrione at the finale due to a Shane Carwin knee injury during the taping of the show. He made short work of the replacement fighter, finishing him in less than three minutes of the first round.
In fact, all of Nelson’s UFC wins have come via knockout. On Saturday night, at UFC 161: “Evans vs. Henderson”, he’ll be facing Stipe Miocic. Will Big Country continue with the trend?
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