Roy Nelson has a theory as to why UFC President Dana White doesn't like him.
It's unclear if Nelson, 36, a heavyweight who goes by the nickname "Big Country" and who proudly sports both a beer belly and a bedraggled beard, meant that remark literally or if he even meant it at all.
Judging by his reluctance to give straight answers to direct questions, that seems to be the way Nelson likes it.
But as Nelson heads into a bout with fellow heavyweight Stipe Miocic (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC 161 in Winnipeg on Saturday (pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET), his relationship with White and the UFC appears to be as big a threat to his career as any opponent.
According to White and Nelson's manager, Mike Kogan, the fight against Miocic is the last on Nelson's contract.
Although Nelson says he doesn't know whether that is the case — "I have people for that," he says — he doesn't deny White's assertion that he has declined the UFC's offer of an extension.
"Everybody wants to extend Roy Nelson's contract," Nelson says. "It all depends on if it's a good contract. I know (UFC co-owner and CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) personally said he wants to pay me as much money as he can.
"I'm all for that."
A lot might hinge on Nelson's performance against Miocic. Although he is on a three-fight win streak that has moved him up to No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA heavyweight rankings, a loss in this fight could seriously weaken Nelson's negotiating position for a new UFC deal.
A win, however, might put him in the driver's seat and bring him closer to his goal of fighting for the UFC heavyweight title.
White has made no secret of the fact he doesn't enjoy dealing with headstrong Nelson.
After he sarcastically dubbed Nelson the "smartest guy on Earth," Nelson began selling T-shirts with that slogan printed across the front.
They're selling "like hotcakes," according to Nelson, which he interprets as one more sign he's a more valuable commodity than White cares to admit.
"Lorenzo and Dana White are in the UFC business," Nelson says. "Roy Nelson is in the Roy Nelson business.
"You would have to talk to them about UFC stuff, but I can tell you the Roy Nelson business is doing very well."
Well enough that the UFC might put concerns about his stubbornness and marketability aside and move him closer to a heavyweight title shot after UFC 161?
Nelson hopes so.
A year from now, he said, "I see myself as champion. Hopefully it's in the UFC, but you'd have to talk to Lorenzo and Dana about that."