Mullet of Zeus, whip-fast wit ... must be UFC's Nelson


And now I'm going to show you how fun it is to talk to Roy "Big Country" Nelson - a mountain of an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter with a comedian's mouth, a Vietnam War beard and an epic mullet.

Actually, he just trimmed the beard.

"You know how everybody wants you to look like a Greek god?" he asked me.

Ummm, yes?

"I look like Zeus," he said. "If you ever look at old pictures, Zeus had basically a long mullet. He had long hair in the back and short in the front, and then this big, massive beard. So I do look like a Greek god."

He feels that there are benefits to his Zeus-ification.

"Women love it. They're like, 'Aw, a man who could grow hair. I wish I had that type of hair,' " Nelson said. "And it's intimidating (to rivals). You're afraid you're fighting Zeus."

Seriously, stick around for this interview. It only gets better.

Or you could go talk to Nelson yourself on Friday and Saturday at the UFC Fan Expo at Mandalay Bay Convention Center ($40-$150).

I asked him who fans should say hello to at the expo, since more than 50 fighting stars will be there, plus UFC honcho Dana White and a bunch of sexy ring girls.

"It all really depends on who your favorite fighter is. If I was going, the only person I would want to see is Roy Nelson," Roy Nelson said, "because I can ask him any question, and he'll give me a straight answer.

"And if you want to see who's a great spin doctor, you'd talk to Dana" White.

But seriously, Nelson said the fan fest is "like the UFC All-Star Game," similar to the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball all-star games.

If you go, then Nelson (who was born and raised around Nellis Air Force Base) has advice for your interactions with fighters.

1. "First, always pay them a compliment. And then they're more than happy to take a picture for you."

2. "Most fighters love the attention - so as long as you know their name, they're all happy - like a girl on their first date."

A lot of people walk up to fighters and say, "I'm your biggest fan."

If you do that to Nelson, be prepared to answer questions.

"If they go, 'I'm your biggest fan,' I'm the guy that will actually quiz you," Nelson, 36, said.

He doesn't do that to shame people. It's his way of breaking the ice.

"I really want to know my fans!"

Nelson is popular in the UFC. He thinks that's because he's authentic and doesn't fake a persona. Winning is great but it's not everything.

"That (winning) is like being a stripper in Vegas. It'll last you only so long. A stripper only lasts until they get to a certain age, and then they become a dried-up prune."

Only charismatic, genuine guys, such as Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, build fan bases even when they lose, Nelson said.

And that's why Nelson always tells up-and-comers they'll get more out of the UFC if they just act like themselves, instead of faking an image.

"Let's say," he said, "somebody takes a picture of you picking your nose."

Nasty.

Don't try to justify picking your nose, and don't freak out, Nelson said.

Instead, you should say, "That's right. That's me picking my nose. And I love it."

One last thing. If you see Nelson this weekend, expect him to weigh about 8 pounds ("of solid muscle") more than during his last bout.

I asked him if he ever feels pressure about his large weight.

"All the time," he said. "Anytime you're a celebrity, you get pressured about your weight. I'm just like Kim Kardashian."

Does any of that weight pressure come from his wife?

"She's pregnant," Nelson scoffed. "She has nothing to talk about."

Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

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