The clichéd answer for a question involving Nelson and UFC title in the same sentence is "anything can happen."
For a fighter like Nelson, this is certainly true. Despite his couch potato appearance, "Big Country" is a world-class heavyweight with well-rounded skills. He has a chance to win every bout regardless of the opponent.
The question people should be asking is, what's realistic?
The days are long gone when the heavyweight division mostly consisted of gargantuan gorillas lumbering around with one-dimensional fighting styles.
Just about every heavyweight on the UFC roster is well-rounded to some degree.
Nelson falls in line with some of the upper-echelon heavyweights on the bubble of the top-10 rankings, but it would be a shocker to ever see him climb over the hump into the elite category.
At 35 years of age, Nelson really hasn't shown anything new.
Some are quick to point to his impressive first-round knockout win over Dave Herman at UFC 146 as some emphatic statement to the rest of the heavyweight division.
This could be true. What could also be true is that Nelson just caught Herman with the exact same punch he's caught so many others with over the years.
People tend to lament the idea of any fighter being deemed a gatekeeper.
There can only be one champion in every division. UFC champions have never been as dominant as they are today. What does that make everyone else below them?
Just about every fighter plays the role of gatekeeper in some way or another.
Nelson may never win UFC gold or even contend for it, but he will always be an upper-echelon talent with an ability to knock off anyone he steps into the cage against.
Keep rubbing your belly, "Big Country."
It'll never go hungry with all of those huge UFC paydays and fight bonuses.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!