Regardless of what you thought about Roy Nelson’s and Kimbo Slice’s performances last night, we can probably all agree it wasn’t the most entertaining fight we’ve ever seen.
If you ask Roy Nelson, that was by design.
My plan was, I was going to stand with him as long as I could. Because I wasn’t really going to shoot on him, just because that’s what he was expecting. And then if he came in flurrying, I was just going to bodylock him, take him down and crucifix him…For the most part, you just want to make sure you don’t get hit, especially with Kimbo. After watching the fight — I didn’t even throw a right hand, so I didn’t even hit him with my best shot. I didn’t even really jab him. I was just waiting for him to come in, because I knew he was going to come in swinging and flurrying, and I knew I was going to come in and bob and weave, and take him down or get to a bodylock…I could have stayed in mount and finished him there with elbows and punches, but my game plan was to get to the crucifix, and once I got to the crucifix, finish the fight there…It’s kind of funny, because as much as Dana was saying, “He did just enough to win,” I’ll answer that directly as, “That’s right. I did exactly what I wanted to do: took no damage; won the fight. That’s everything I wanted to do when I was out in the house, so I think I did pretty good for myself.”
Nelson also told Fanhouse’s Ariel Helwani that if that fight had taken place in front of a live audience, he would have fought a much different fight. He would have let his hands go “for entertainment value,” but because of the situation he was in — having to fight in a tournament format over a span of six weeks to make it to the finals — the only thing he was focused on was getting the “W” without getting hurt and/or injured.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with his strategy, his approach was still risky. Everyone knows Dana likes guys who come to fight, not play it safe. Nelson’s strategy definitely works if he wins out and takes home the contract, but if he loses, he isn’t leaving a good impression on the UFC brass who have historically awarded contracts to fighters on the show who impressed them in defeat.
A few lackluster performances may not be the only thing Roy needs to worry about on Dec. 5 if he’s in fact one of the finalists. Dana has never been fond of fighters saying too much in the media. In both interviews, he let the cat of out of the bag that Kimbo was getting a little special treatment.
I think [Dana] wasn’t happy with that fight. I mean, everybody was really mad. Kimbo’s whole entourage was there, which was kind of funny since we are all supposed to be isolated, but Kimbo actually had his whole fan base, the whole 305 over there. There’s definitely some favoritism already built up there…Actually, if you go back and actually look at the clips, they are actually behind where Dana, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta are. There’s his entourage screaming 305. I mean, I didn’t really get to see it because I was concentrating on the fight, but everybody kind of told me about it, and I was like, ‘What?’ I think he really did have a media room in the house because there was one door in our bedroom where it was locked all the time…I don’t know if he had an iPhone, but he definitely wasn’t on the same contract as everybody else…[His entourage wasn’t] actually at the house, but the fact that they could even show up was pretty, I guess, ballsy, I would say. It’s kind of insulting.
Roy also claimed that Craig Piligian, the show’s executive producer, was visibly upset after the fight because he beat his “cash cow.”
That’s probably not the kind of stuff you want to be talking to the media about if you’re still trying to get in the UFC, but on the other hand, 6.1 million people saw Roy Nelson defeat Kimbo Slice last night. A lot of fans and some writers are making him out to be the big-bellied villain. If Dana and Co. believe they can monetize that, perhaps even with a rematch, his chances of getting a real shot in the UFC may still be pretty good should he lose between now and Dec. 6.
Time will tell…