Big Country and Big Money: Tensions between Roy Nelson and Dana White

By Ben Leven
Roy Nelson UFC
Ron Chenoy-US Presswire

Let me ask everyone out there: how many of you don’t get along with their bosses? I’m not a betting man, but I’m going to wager that a good amount of you don’t.

That’s cool, that’s natural. In the past, I’ve had my fair share of intolerable bosses; fortunately that is not the case now. I understand the stress and anxiety that befalls your life if you and the person in charge of your livelihood don’t get along. I also understand that no matter how different worlds can be in the job market, the universal truth is you have a boss you either like or don’t.

Naturally, this universal truth extends from the waiter serving you your dinner, to the UFC star entertaining you on Saturday night. Both Dana White and Roy Nelson are not ones to dispense kind words to one another.

“I think Dana and I are gonna fight, I think I even offered. We’ll handle it like men, like everybody else.”

Considering the nature of the business these men work for, a fight would not only be plausible, but it would be awesome. However, for all intents and purposes this won’t happen anytime soon. Nelson and White are not seeing eye to eye for a few reasons. Nelson feels Zuffa is keeping him out of the loop by not informing him of updates regarding fights, injuries, etc. If Nelson is allegedly being left out of the loop, it’s a lack of respect from the organization.

Aside from Nelson possibly not getting a chance to see the big picture, Dana White has been public about calling Nelson an underachiever.  In an interview with James Koh, White said:

“I call him ‘The Ultimate Underachiever.’ That’s what he is, ok? This guy. You know, he’ll come to me and he’ll say ‘I want more sponsors, I got this, that, he’s got a mullet on his back. And a huge beard! A beard that almost covers the belly, and that’s saying something. And I always tell him ‘Seriously?’ Who would want to put their….somebody’s going to want to put their company logo on that!?”

I agree with White. In the combat industry there are no teams, just fighters. The likelihood of success for a fighter based on individual skill and effort is much higher than professional athletes in a team sport. But by the same token, that means the focus is clear on failure.

Having said this; successful strong fighters such as Nelson represent the image of a top fighter in the league. So yes, image is very important. Nelson’s down home, good old fashion grizzled country look is not consistent with the clean cut, chiseled look of the other fighters. Nelson’s look is unique and interesting and is marketable to the right demographic. For that, White can let Nelson be an individual and respect that individuality that makes him a very entertaining prospect.

Employers and employees will never always be compatible. Although White and Nelson aren’t getting along, I doubt it will escalate into something as serious as two guys that can’t coexist in the work place.

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