Roy Nelson is a Renzo Gracie black belt in Jiu-Jitsu with knockout power and tremendous wrestling, on a three fight win streak in a division that is notably brutal to stay on top of. And he doesn't get along with his boss.
UFC president Dana White has sarcastically referred to Nelson as "smartest guy on earth."
In return, Nelson now sells t-shirts with the slogan on them.
So is Nelson trying to built an anti-hero image, in the vein of Tito Ortiz?
"He's not doing that," White told Yahoo Sport's Kevin Iole. "He's not. It's nothing he's thought about and is intentionally trying to do. He's not that smart. Let's be honest. He's just not a smart guy. He's just that guy who is irritating. He thinks he's smart, but he's an absolute pain in the ass.
"He jumped up on the Octagon [after beating Kimbo Slice] and said to me, 'Go get me a Whopper,' as if Burger King or McDonald's would ever want to have a guy who looks like that endorsing product. He think's he's funny, but to me, he's an idiot."
As UFC fighters are independent contractors, not employees of ZUFFA, Nelson sees himself, not White, as the boss.
"In a sport like baseball, there are a few players who will stand up, but they do it in, what I guess I'd say, is a politically correct way," said Nelson. "They definitely can get their point across through the media. You have to remember that they're also employees. There's a big difference when you're an employee.
"When you work for yourself, the whole point of working for yourself is that you're the boss. Some people don't understand the sports business. In this business, as an athlete, you're a commodity. If you're a bartender, you can't say certain things because there are a lot of bartenders out there and you could be replaced. It's not hard to replace a bartender. If there was another Roy Nelson, OK, but there is not and so it's harder to replace the athlete. We're not a dime a dozen. Very few people can do what we can do. Very few."
Does the feud between the two mean it will be harder for Nelson to get a title shot?
"Roy loves to say I'll never give him a title shot," said White. "But dude, beat someone and then I'll give you the shot. Roy is knocking off these guys ranked six through 10, but when he gets to fighting the top five guys, he can't do the same thing. You're not going to get a title shot for beating No. 6 and No. 8. You have to beat the top guys."
"Everyone knows how I feel about Roy, and everyone remembers how I felt about Tito. But I never prevented any fight for Tito from happening. If he goes out there and beats the guys ranked head of him, then yeah, he'll get one. But he's not going to get one just by talking about it and doing whatever the hell he is trying to do. He's going to have to fight for it, just like everyone else."
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Roy Nelson fights Stipe Miocic on June 15 at UFC 161 in Winnipeg. Miocic is not in the top 10.
Champion : Cain Velasquez
1 Junior dos Santos
2 Daniel Cormier
3 Fabricio Werdum
4 Antonio Silva
5 Roy Nelson
6 Alistair Overeem
7 Frank Mir
8 Minotauro Nogueira
9 Travis Browne
10 Mark Hunt
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