So for the longest time, Roy Nelson claimed that his ample belly actually served a few purposes.
First, hit gave him a good base when it came to holding people on the mat.
That does make a little bit of sense. I think of his belly along the lines of a paperweight. As long as it weighs more than what is underneath it, nothing will be able to get away from under it. At 260 lbs, there are few fighters out there that weigh more that it does.
Second, it allowed him to be a larger heavyweight and maintain his cardio.
The whole premises behind this theory is it having more oxygen-hungry muscles requires more oxygen to be supplied to them instead of your cardiovascular system. This premise is flawed.
If you look at his natural frame, "Big Country" is built more like a light heavyweight, just as Frank Mir explained. Having all that extra fat around the mid section might not require oxygen-rich blood to be carried to it, but it sure makes the rest of his muscles need more of it to carry around all that extra mass.
This would explain why he has gassed out fairly early in his last two fights. The oxygen needed for his endurance is being sent to his muscles that are struggling to carry more weight than they should.
Take a look at his last two fights, for example. Against both Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, Nelson gassed out during the second round. Both dos Santos and Mir would have had no problems finishing him off if it weren't for his heart, ground skills, and iron chin.
After his disappointing outing against Mir at UFC 130, you have to take Mir's suggestions about a drop down to light heavyweight for Nelson a little more seriously.
It's difficult right now to figure out where Nelson stands in the heavyweight division. It's clear he's not at the top, but he would need a few fights to determine if he's at the middle or towards the bottom. If Nelson is looking at his career in the long term, it may not be such a bad idea to skip those third and fourth trips through the buffet and start slimming down.
If Nelson has had the amount of success he has had with all the extra luggage he is carrying around, just think of how great he would look—and how great he may be—with 35 or 40 fewer pounds on his body.
He would be quicker, more powerful, and his cardio would be much improved.
For those of you who think the drop to light heavyweight isn't possible for Nelson, just remember that Joe Riggs once fought at super heavyweight. He is now a solid welterweight.
Big Country, it's time that you and Robert Gardner put your weekly Whopper eating contest in the past, look forward at your fighting career, and just think what the move to 205 could do for you.