Two fights into his Bellator MMA tenure, Roy Nelson has few complaints.
He might be 42 years old, but according to "Big Country," there's plenty left in the tank—especially with the Bellator heavyweight division continuing to open up.
Frequently asked about potential matchups, Nelson says it would take two hands to count the number of fan-friendly fights on his radar. Frank Mir, Fedor Emelianenko, a rematch with Matt Mitrione, maybe even a fight against Josh Barnett if he signs with Bellator—the list goes on.
While still maneuvering through his career in a relatively carefree manner, Nelson repeatedly displayed interest in fighting one man in particular: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Stemming from their time on The Ultimate Fighter back in 2009, Nelson and Jackson have clashed heads for years. The booking was never realistic in the UFC, with Rampage competing at 205 pounds. Now with both fighters in Bellator, however, Nelson thinks the door to a showdown with his TUF 10 foe has been unlocked.
“I think [the fight] is closer than before,” Nelson said in an interview with FloCombat. “I was actually supposed to fight him back in May [at Bellator 200] and he turned down the fight. Apparently after he beat Wanderlei [Silva] he was feeling [good].
"He called me out and said he wanted to whip my ass and I said okay. I’ve got to get past Sergei first though.”
The “Sergei” he refers to is the legendary Russian fighter Sergei Kharitonov. Friday night at Bellator 207, Nelson meets Kharitonov inside the cage at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
Both men will look to bounce back from unsuccessful outings in their last bouts.
“He comes out and he fights—that’s the one thing [about him],” Nelson said. “He’s knocked out [Alistair] Overeem and he’s knocked out [Fabricio] Werdum, so he’s a guy that definitely brings some thunder. That makes it a fan-friendly fight."
Earlier this summer, Bellator MMA President Scott Coker declared Nelson as the Heavyweight Grand Prix alternate fighter—a status Nelson feels may very well become relevant in the coming months.
With both semi-finals taking place this weekend and the finals scheduled for January, Nelson believes there is a good chance he ends up walking away the tournament's victor.
“Hopefully nobody slips in the bathroom, but [a tournament withdrawal] could be after,” Nelson said. “I could go right for the championship. You never know.
“One of those guys could always win the fight and then afterwards break their hand. Then I could take their spot. The finals fight is supposed to happen in January, so that’s a fast turnaround for these guys.”