Is Roy Nelson hurting VADA?

Monday, December 17, 2012

In another must-read piece, MMAJunkie’s Ben Fowlkes argues that Roy Nelson being Roy Nelson can get in the way of Roy Nelson’s best interests, and those of the sport.

Roy Nelson has become perhaps the sport’s most vocal crusader for improved performance-enhancing drug testing – and at a time when MMA needs such a crusader. You just wish he could make it a little easier for people to take him seriously, especially when he’s being serious.

The drug testing issue is a perfect example of how “Big Country” sometimes lets his Big Country-ness overshadow his message. Ever since he teamed up with VADA to do exhaustive voluntary testing before each fight, he’s used it as much as a tool for self-promotion as a tool for cleaning up the sport. He wields it against opponents like an unspoken accusation. It turns VADA into the thing that Nelson tries to bully other fighters into, rather than a thing they could do together. It makes his fellow heavyweights want to resist it, just as Shane Carwin and Mitrione both did with no small amount of resentment.

“If Roy wants to bring it up to me, why doesn’t Roy bring it up to them and then they call me directly?” Mitrione said earlier this week, when explaining why he refused Nelson’s offer to participate in the voluntary testing. “Why would Roy call me directly and be like, ‘Hey, here’s the VADA stuff?’ What the f— kind of a president of a company would say, ‘Hey, just go ahead and handle that yourself?’ You want to get the attention from it? Want kind of bulls— is that?”

Mitrione has a point there. But he’s objecting to the how instead of the why, which is not so different from White’s criticism of Nelson from a promoter’s perspective. It’s the form rather than the function, yet again. The idea of supplemental voluntary testing is still a good one, whether you think VADA is the right agency to do it or not. Maybe it’s just that Nelson has gotten so used to doing things his own way – and so used to ignoring people who tell him he’s wrong – he can’t let himself work with people. He associates his own brand of stubbornness with independence, and he doesn’t see that sometimes his attitude is the problem rather than the solution.

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