Now 41 years old, longtime former UFC heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson has decided to make the jump to Bellator MMA, where he will make his promotional debut tonight (Sat. September 23, 2017) on the main card of Bellator 183.

Nelson is scheduled to take on Javy Ayala at the SAP Center from San Jose, California, which will be a dual MMA and kickboxing event. The kickboxing portion of the event will not air until October 6th.

A highly publicized critic of the UFC during his tenure there, “Big Country” recently spoke to media regarding his jump from the UFC to Bellator and discussed what the biggest difference in fight week between the two promotions is (quotes via MMA Fighting):

“It’s been exciting,” said Nelson. “It’s when you wake up for a new job, even though it’s the same old job, but it’s a new job and you want to put your best foot forward. The biggest difference is being excited to go to work, I can’t wait for Saturday.

“There’s a big difference in my enthusiasm.`Please’ and `thank you’ go a long way. Anytime someone says `please’ and `thank you,’ it means so much more than `just do this.'”

josh barnett vs Roy NElsonHe then discussed the decision to sign with Bellator over the UFC, naming his great relationship with Scott Coker and Viacom as one of the biggest contributing factors:

“What brought me to Bellator was Scott Coker, Viacom and one of my good friends, Mike Kogan,” he said. “I’ve known Mike for I’d say 10 years. And then there’s the new regime at the UFC. There’s a lot of things.

“Actually, it was a super easy decision,” he said. “It was a no brainer. It had nothing to do with the offer. It had everything to do with `please’ and `thank you.’ That is appreciation. One of the things in marriage is you have to understand what appreciation is about, and that’ll keep me for longevity. That’s why my fans love me, because I appreciate them. Because with no fans, there would be no sport, no fighting for me, no UFC, no Bellator, no Rizin, there’d be nothing without the fans.”

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Has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) for the past several years. Also covers professional wrestling for WrestleZone and EWrestlingNews, and the Houston Texans for USA Today's Texans Wire.