Roy “Big Country” Nelson: Top 5 MMA Finishes

Roy Nelson (aka “Big Country”) born June 20th, 1976, in Las Vegas, USA is an American mixed martial artist who has competed in the heavyweight division of the UFC, Bellator MMA, Elite XC, IFL, and Bodog Fight.

The 45 year-old is ranked among the top 10 UFC Heavyweights and the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights in the UFC.” The former IFC Heavyweight Champion holds notable victories over Mirko Cro Cop, Cheick Kongo, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

During his school years in Las Vegas, Nelson excelled in wrestling, football, and baseball. Before starting his full fledged martial arts career, he played rugby representing the Las Vegas Blackjacks for two seasons in 2002 and 2003.

At just 15 years of age, he started to train in karate and Grandmaster Ark Wong’s, Ng Ga Kuen Shaolin Kung Fu. He also had a brief stint in warehouse work in 1999, and was soon tempted into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, going on to train under UFC veteran John Lewis, in 2000.

After spending 9 grueling years intensively training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he was granted his black belt on August 26th, 2009, by none other than Master Renzo Gracie.

Roy Nelson made his pro-MMA debut on April 17, 2004 at the ‘Rage on the River’ event taking place at Win River Casino in Redding, California.

Riding high on his 6 consecutive victories, Nelson was signed by the IFL (International Fighting League) where he became the Heavyweight Champion at the IFL World Grand Prix in 2007.

The UFC spotted the brash fighter and signed him as one of sixteen warriors in “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” in 2009.

In his UFC debut, he defeated the Bahamian-American street fighter legend Kimbo Slice (aka “The King of the Web Brawlers”) via a TKO stoppage involving repeated punches to Slice’s head, faced down in the crucifix position.

This huge event became the highest-rated MMA show in United States’ history grossing a mammoth exposure to 6 million MMA fans!

In 2016, Nelson caused a huge controversy in his match against Antonio “Big Foot” Silva. After winning the fight via KO punches, Roy was furious that the referee, John McCarthy, took longer than he should have to intervene.

He vented out his frustration by kicking John while he checked in on the injured Silva. Later, he issued an apology on Instagram to the referee – he had gotten a bit carried away for hurting his friend Antonio Silva.

Besides fighting, Nelson is known for his commentary for multiple sites which has included weekly Q&A sessions on episodes of USA Today’s Fighting, and blogs for

Okay, so now you know something about “Big Country’s” backstory, let’s dive into Roy Nelson’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)

5. Vs. Fabiano Scherner – IFL 20 LV (Feb. 29, 2008)

While the entire planet was buried in a recession, Roy Nelson was poised to strike with more deadly punches after winning the IFL World Grand Prix Finals in his last match crucifying Antoine Jaoude with lethal force.

Now Nelson defended his IFL Heavyweight title for the first time against the Brazilian fighter Fabiano “Pega Leve” Scherner.

Nelson mowed the ring down in his orthodox stance, and along with some brief moments of scuffle, took Scherner to the mat at 0:30 into round 1.

Charged with raging fury, Nelson attacked Fabiano with short-arm jabs near the 2 minute mark. Nelson exerted his heavyweight midsection on Scherner literally giving him no room to breathe.

Scherner ran to escape towards the ring post before being hustled back to the canvas by “Big Country”.

Nelson then blasted his opponent’s face with a couple of thunderous strikes as referee, Steve Mazzagatti, intervened to pull Nelson away at 3:20 of round 1.

Fait accompli, Roy Nelson won the match via KO punches to retain his IFL Heavyweight Championship.

4. Vs. Cheick Kongo – UFC 159 (April 27, 2013)

Roy Nelson went one-on-one against French fighter, Cheick “The Darkness” Kongo.

To start, Roy immediately occupied the center of the octagon posing an imminent threat to “The Darkness”. The inevitable scuffle broke out as the two fighters grappled at the side of the cage.

Nelson pushed Kongo with full force towards the cage whilst Kongo tightly curled his right arm to prevent any unwanted “Big Country” damage. After 90 seconds of exhaustive grappling, the referee Kevin Mulhall, intervened to separate the two to reset the fight.

The light of “Big Country” was enough to intimidate “The Darkness”, as at 2 minutes into round 1, the crowd went bonkers as a big, swinging right hook, crashed like a hammer through a plastered wall knocking Kongo out, felling him to the canvas.

Another deadly right-hand jab, and referee Kevin Mulhall had seen enough, immediately intervening at 2:03 of round 1.

Roy Nelson won the match via KO punches which was UFC 159’s Knockout of the Night, it was also ranked as the 30th Best MMA Knockout of the Year, 2013.

In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Nelson stressed that it was the energy that he got from his fans that supported him to knock fighters out, in addition of course, to also being hungry for the gold.

3. Vs. Brad Imes – IFL22 CT (May 16, 2008)

Roy Nelson vs Brad Imes

Nelson’s second IFL heavyweight title defense came against American fighter Brad “The Hillbilly Heartthrob” Imes, who had a huge, 7-inch height advantage against the 6-foot tall Nelson.

Both fighters started with feeler punches exchanged. At 0.27 into round 1, Nelson threw a right hand with a bang which had a great impact on Imes who only just caught himself from falling. Nelson then went berserk, firing jabs and hooks to dismantle his opponent.

Imes tried to hang on, only to be further brutalized with mighty, left-right blows that made “The Hillbilly Heartthrob” run to get some distance…and a breather.

Roy then tore him up with a massive, right-hand jab, knocking his quarry out as Imes hit the canvas.

Big Country then followed up with furied ground and pound as the referee hurriedly interfered to call the match and prevent any further damage to Imes at 3:55 of round 1.

Roy Nelson won the eye-opening contest, again retaining his IFL Heavyweight Championship.

2. Vs. Brendan Schaub – TUF 10 Finale (Dec. 5, 2009)

This was the finale of the “The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweight” tournament championship. Roy Nelson crucified James McSweeney via a first-round TKO to make his way into the finale of the heavyweights.

Round 1 here started with the fighters raging forwards with clenched fists, eager to make the first strike and capitalize from the off.

Nelson tried to grab Schaub’s left leg for a takedown which is thrown off whilst Schaub instead inflicts a barrage of heavy, left-right strikes. Nelson now finds himself caught at cage side within the first 30 seconds into the round.

Propelling his weight advantage, Nelson then strolls down Schaub and tosses him aside for a takedown.

Schaub gets mobile quickly thanks to his agility who then swings hard with some meaty blows on Nelson’s face at 2:15 into round 1.

Big Country then retaliated with a fierce right hand aiming to ‘break’ both Schaub’s jaw and spirit.

Soon after, Roy smashed a deadly, fully-extended right hook rendering Schaub unconscious as he took a quick swirling fall to the canvas at 3:45 of round 1. Referee, Herb Dean quickly intervened to call game over as Nelson got the KO win.

This match is ranked the 92nd Best MMA Fight of the Year for 2009, and also earned The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale: Knockout of the Night.

1. Vs. Javy Ayala – Bellator 183 (Sept. 24, 2017)

Nelson signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA in May 2017 after his contract with the UFC expired.

This epic battle of warriors began aggressively as Javy Ayala shot some quick leather and a rash kick on Nelson at the beginning of round 1.

At 0:49 into round 1, Javy Ayala takes a couple of steps back, builds momentum, and fires a combination of left-right striking, following it up with a heavy knee to the head.

Nelson bode his time to get into his groove when suddenly Javy struck out with a thunderous Superman Elbow strike on Roy’s skull.

Enough was enough for Big Country now as he drove Ayala towards the side of the cage into a takedown resulting in a big cheer from the crowd at 2:56 into round 1.

Then Nelson busted Ayala with short arm jabs before Ayala rose back to his feet and thrashed Nelson in the last 15 seconds of round 1.

In round 2, at 40 seconds in, Nelson rushed in for another takedown and this time, he thrashed Ayala with short, left-hand jabs. Nelson then flips over Ayala, takes back control into a triangle, and executes a choke.

A resilient Ayala found his way out of the choke, and with full-throttle acceleration, hammered Nelson with brutal jabs and kicks.

Nelson’s attitude here says it all; unperturbed. Nelson retaliates with uppercuts on Ayala that leave him stunned along with another takedown. This time Nelson heaps a flurry of cold-blooded, brutal elbows to his opponent’s face to finish round 2 on a high.

In round 3, Nelson successfully executes his game plan as he again storms Ayala into a takedown, pounding his opponent with extreme force to win the match via round 3 unanimous decision.

So there we have it folks, 5 of Roy Nelson’s best MMA finishes!

Meantime, “Big Country” has shown keen interest to work with Triller Fight Club (Triad Combat with Metallica) for his next big fight – so who should he fight next?

With highly entertaining performances, a record of 23 wins with 15 TKO/KO’s, and 4 submissions, where would you rank Roy Nelson amongst the heavyweight greats? What’s your favourite “Big Country” fight moment from the list above? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Atif Khan

Atif Khan is an MA graduate in International Journalism from Cardiff University. He is keenly Interested in learning about all types of martial arts and their essence in cultivating strong physical and mental strength. He's always been fascinated by Chinese kung fu pioneers along with their mystical animal styles, forms and poses, and their hard work philosophy leading to a balanced way of life.

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