UFC fans may be saying goodbye to Roy Nelson soon.
Generally, fighters in the UFC aren't supposed to look like Roy Nelson.
Not in modern-day MMA, at least.
Today, if fighters are competing in the UFC's heaviest division, they usually don't have beards resembling a coral reef or a profile that looks like "Santa Claus on a bender." And they're typically not lugging around huge, sagging beer bellies.
But despite it all, "Big Country" has survived in the world's biggest fight promotion—on the strength of an iron chin, one-punch knockout power and an improbable run on The Ultimate Fighter.
And sadly, Nelson's UFC run may come to an end after his next match.
Like Cheick Kongo, some fighters leave due to pay issues.
Interestingly, one of the more overlooked aspects of Roy Nelson's next fight is that it's actually the last bout on his current UFC contract.
So, regardless of whether he wins or loses, "Big Country" won't have another match in the UFC unless they settle terms.
At a glance, you would think re-signing Nelson would be a no-brainer—he's well-known to even casual fans, generally scores exciting knockout victories and is praised for his "heart" in combat.
That means if Nelson loses on Saturday, he could fall victim to the cut list, too.
Heck, even walking away with the win won't guarantee that Nelson and the UFC will agree on a new contract, especially since the company is trying to save money by cutting some of its "expensive" fighters from the roster.
In disclosed pay alone, Nelson's made $497,000 in the UFC.
Roy Nelson has come a long way since winning Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, more than earning his weight in paychecks and bonuses.
In fact, disclosed payroll numbers alone show that he's one of the most successful TUF veterans in UFC history, more than doubling his average fight night cash:
• UFC 159: $48,000 [Win] + $65,000 "KO of the Night" bonus
• TUF 16 Finale: $48,000 [Win]
• UFC 146: $40,000 [Win] + $70,000 "KO of the Night" bonus
• UFC 143: $20,000 [Loss] + $65,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus
• UFC 137: $40,000 [Win]
• UFC 130: $15,000 [Loss]
• UFC 117: $15,000 [Loss]
• UFC Fight Night 21: N/A [Win] + $30,000 "KO of the Night" bonus
• TUF 10 Finale: $16,000 [Win] + $25,000 "KO of the Night" bonus
That's definitely not chump change, but that's also not the kind of money the UFC seems eager to pay unless a fighter is a pay-per-view draw, title contender or a big-name athlete in his prime.
And even though Nelson is not making the kind of money Jon Fitch or Cheick Kongo were before they left the UFC, those bonuses add up on the bottom line.
Roy Nelson will turn 37 this June.
It's fair to say that Roy Nelson may not be in his physical prime anymore, but the real damning part of that is his inability to crack the heavyweight division's elite.
Moreover, the 265-pound title picture is a relatively younger man's sport.
Cain Velasquez rules the yard at 30 years old, Junior dos Santos turned 29 this year and there's plenty of fresher talent around like Stipe Miocic, Todd Duffee, Stefan Struve, Brendan Schaub, Travis Browne and the recently signed Nikita Krylov.
Nelson is about to turn 37 this June, and while he's not the oldest heavyweight on the roster, his age, compounded with his physique, may be a factor in his immediate future.
Roy Nelson isn't exactly "Employee of the Month" material.
There's not a whole lot of research needed to show that Roy Nelson doesn't have the best relationship with UFC brass or Dana White.
When he's not openly accusing the UFC of fixing the heavyweight title picture, Nelson is otherwise playing to the beat of his own drum while continuing to massage his ill-groomed look, which has drawn notable criticism from his employers.
Heck, Nelson and his camp aren't even afraid to commit the cardinal sin of turning down fights, something that's rumored to drive matchmaker Joe Silva irate.
That's probably why Big Country is actually moving down in the rankings to fight Stipe Miocic, especially after turning his nose up at Daniel Cormier.
It's not an ideal spot to be with the UFC if you have contract negotiations on the rise, either, since Nelson may estimate his value far higher than the company does.
Early warning signs are already on the horizon anyway, with a recent interview at Yahoo! Sports showing that the animosity between Nelson and his boss has only gotten worse over the years.
Does this look like a future UFC champion?
"The fat thing was funny for awhile, but it's not funny anymore."
Although every fighter in the heaviest MMA division is "obese" by technicality, the UFC would prefer to advertise superhero-like behemoths with huge muscular builds instead of flabby guys who look like roadies.
Unfortunately, a great fighter like Nelson turns that value system on its head, giving it a good spin every time he knocks out someone and rubs his own belly.
But larger-than-life athletes are a major part of what sells pay-per-views, and the UFC is all too happy to push guys who look like Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos or Alistair Overeem.
After all, imagine the headaches it would cause White if Nelson got that title shot, landing his hobo-like beard on fight posters and UFC promo materials.