During Nelson's time on the reality show, "Big Country" was condemned by White for celebrating what the UFC president saw as mediocre performances.
Since Nelson transitioned from TUF contestant to bona fide heavyweight contender, White has shifted gears, criticizing Nelson's physique and claiming that he is unmarketable because of his unkempt appearance.
So what is at the root of White's animosity? Is it genuine dislike? Is it jealousy? Does it stem from a childhood fear of overweight mountain men?
According to Nelson himself, it's all about the star-power.
"I think he's star-struck," Nelson told Ben Fowlkes of USA Today. "Some people get flustered when a bigger star is in the room."
Nelson's explanation apparently contains a measure of humor, but it is often difficult to size that measure when it comes to the heavyweight star.
Regardless, the animosity between him and White is coming to a head.
As Nelson readies for his UFC 161 match against Stipe Miocic this weekend, he finds himself at a career crossroads, and his confrontational relationship with White is taking center stage.
Saturday's bout marks the final commitment of Nelson's contract, and while he says that "Everyone wants to extend Roy Nelson's contract," there is some uncertainty over whether or not things will get done.
"Lorenzo and Dana White are in the UFC business," Nelson notes. "Roy Nelson is in the Roy Nelson business." According to Nelson, "the Roy Nelson business is doing very well."
Obviously, it is in the best interest of both parties to reconcile and remain connected. For Nelson, the UFC represents the best way to stay in the limelight and collect a big check every few months. For the UFC, Nelson's return keeps a legitimate top-10 heavyweight competitor on the roster—and a fan-favorite at that.
As importantly, a deal would be a coup for UFC fans, who enjoy Nelson's lighthearted approach to competing, and the particularly vicious brand of knockouts that he has become known for delivering.