Roy Nelson is fighting Stipe Miocic this Saturday at UFC Winnipeg: Revenge of the Gypsy Curse, and you better enjoy it because it may very well be the last time Nelson steps into the Octagon.
UFC President Dana White used the contract circumstances as a way to explain the pairing of Nelson and Miocic, which looked odd when announced five weeks ago.
The fighters were headed in different directions. Nelson had just defeated Cheick Kongo and ascended to No. 5 in the heavyweight rankings two months ago while Miocic was coming off the first loss of his career and hadn’t fought in nine months.
Slated to fight newcomer Soa Palelei on the preliminary card, Miocic found himself promoted into the Nelson bout on late notice. It was a necessary move, according to White, because of the terms of Nelson’s contract.
“He’s on the last fight of his deal and we owe him a fight,” White said. “He’s not giving us any extensions.”
White reported that the UFC offered Nelson an extension that he turned down, prompting the boss to blast the fighter by referring to him as “the smartest guy on Earth” and “a (expletive) genius.”
Cheick Kongo wasn’t fired by the UFC, persay. He was just offered a shittier contract, which led him to refuse and test out the free agent waters. And while he hasn’t officially signed with Bellator yet, word is he will be once the UFC refuses to match B’s offer. In Kongo’s case, the situation makes sense. He hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire lately with a 1-2 record and plodding decision wins. The UFC felt he was no longer worth 70k/70k he currently made and tried to renegotiate a lower rate upon resigning. He refused and is now going somewhere else. The system works!
But in Roy Nelson’s case, the UFC’s lowballing seems to have less to do with Nelson’s performance in the cage than management’s disliking of the portly heavyweight. You can’t really cut a guy who’s won his past three fights via first round knockout, but you can refuse to offer him a raise and let him walk away on his own. And while the UFC is perfectly free to run their business however they want, it’s disturbing when you see toxic office politics basically push a top 5 fighter out of the major league of MMA.