File this one under “Further Humiliation of the International Fight League Department”: Former IFL standout Roy Nelson was recently advised by UFC brass that it would be in his best interests to doff the excess weight surrounding his midsection.
Nelson, for the uninitiated, is a talented fighter who may be hovering near 30 percent body fat storage, enough to strain the jaws of even the most durable mass calipers. He is every tired pregnant-man joke personified, the best “Before” picture a supplement company could ever hope for.
In brief: He’s a Fat Guy.
It’s a label Nelson wears proudly. After one of his last IFL bouts, he stroked and cradled his engorged belly like a pet, the protuberant, gelatinous mass earning applause of its very own. He seems to relish the dichotomy of his central obesity and the ability to concuss opponents with a combination of heavy power and formidable conditioning. (Upstart promotion Affliction apparently agreed, having signed him to a deal to appear on its October card.)
Nelson and his e-supporters took obvious umbrage at the UFC’s (alleged) condition of employment. Fighters should be expected to fight, the chorus went, not to be Calvin Klein models.
They certainly have precedent to reference. One of the most iconic figures in the sport, Fedor Emelianenko, is one blintz away from needing a bigger WAMMA belt; perennial antihero David “Tank” Abbott looks to have swallowed a Pilates ball. Neither man’s career seems to have suffered from lack of being able to spot their anterior deltoid.
And yet the UFC can’t be called unreasonable.
Sure, it’s the fight -- not Mr. Olympia -- business. Participants should be judged on the merits of their skills and not how well they translate into an action figure. But there are extremes, cases where someone may be so outside the literal and proverbial mold of what’s acceptable in a public spectacle that it becomes an issue. Nelson’s sloughing stomach is so noticeable that casual inspection would indicate this sport is everything its detractors believe it is -- an unqualified, televised bar scuffle.
Nelson may chalk up his shape to genetics, but a reasonable diet coupled with calorically demanding training can’t possibly sustain excess weight of that volume. A dumpy physique is one thing -- looking to the world like you’ve never seen a Stairmaster is another. Link