There are many ways you could define UFC Heavyweight Roy Nelson: a knockout artist, a fan favorite, the world’s foremost Rubeus Hagrid impressionist, and in the opinion of Dana White, a “f*cking genius.” Truly, “Big country” has never been one to mince words when it comes to the UFC brass or his fellow fighters, and ahead of his surefire slugfest with his amigo Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at Fight Night 95 this weekend, it seems that he’s now set his sights on yet another group of his constituents: referees.
During an appearance on the UFC Unfiltered Podcast earlier this week, Nelson aired out a long list of grievances that he held about both the officials tasked with enforcing the rules in his fights and the rules themselves.
“I hate the third guy in there,” Nelson said. “Just stop the illegal stuff. Don’t let him poke me in the eye or hit me in my balls, apart from that, I don’t give a sh*t. I don’t think they jump in. I just don’t think they know what the f*ck is going on. “I think the rules should be pretty simple — just stay the hell out of it. It’s a fight. If a guy can’t get off his back, then he sucks. He shouldn’t be in MMA — he should be in boxing.”
Nelson then referred to a specific instance that occurred during his previous fight with fellow slugger Derrick Lewis, even going so far as to call Big John McCarthy — one of the most beloved and respected figures in the history of the sport — a “retard.”
“The thing is, even in my last fight [Derrick Lewis], I even had a long talk with John McCarthy in the back and I said, ‘Don’t break us up when I’m working blah, blah, blah. He was like, ‘As long as you’re doing damage that’s cool’.
“When I had him [Lewis] up against the fence I was sitting there punching him in the legs and giving him a good old slog and all that, but then me and John McCarthy were having a conversation and he was saying, ‘You gotta move’ and I was like ‘I’m doing damage.’ I was sitting there having a conversation with him and I was like, ‘Dude you’re such a r—–.’
“In that conversation, John goes, ‘If you’re in guard and you go body-body-head, body-body-head, I’m going to have to stand you up’, but, If you’re the guy on the bottom and you’re just holding, I’m not going to stand you up to basically reward you. I was then like, ‘What if I’m in guard and I’m going body–body–head, but the guy is holding me just doing nothing? Who gets up? Who are you going to reward?’. I was just dumbfounded. He didn’t say anything and just told me to shut up.
Nelson’s argument that fighters should be allowed more sufficient time to operate in grappling exchanges is not an unfamiliar one to anyone who has been following the sport for a while, but rings especially true for Nelson, who is still likely sour over the premature standup that arguably led to him being KO’d by Andrei Arlovski back at EliteXC: Heat in 2008. UFC commentator Joe Rogan has lamented as much on countless occasions, and it really highlights how thankless of a job that of an MMA referee often is.
In recent weeks, even veteran referees like Herb Dean have come under fire for either acting too quickly on a stoppage or not quickly enough, but the sad truth is that until the Unified Rules of MMA are retooled to meet the ever-evolving nature of the sport (which thankfully, is finally starting to happen), the way in which it is officiated will continue to swing wildly from referee to referee. In Nelson’s case, I’d assume that his ability to have a conversation with the referee would mean that he wasn’t exactly operating at his full output, but what do I know? The last fight I got in was outside a bar in Upstate New York and I sure wish there had been someone around to step in and save me from the
middle aged woman gigantic biker that was kicking my ass at the time.