COMMENTARY | Earlier this month, it was reported that Keith Kizer was resigning from his post as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The news is important for MMA promotions and fans considering the volume of high-profile bouts that take place in Las Vegas on a yearly basis and the fact that such bouts fall within the Nevada commission's control.
As a result, the search for Kizer's replacement will be under particular scrutiny by the UFC and MMA fans. Many of the candidates for the position will likely not be household names, which will require interested observers to do some digging if they want to assess how the candidates may do in the job. However, one high profile candidate has recently thrown his name into the mix: current UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson.
While Nelson may not have the administrative resume for the position, and UFC president Dana White does not give him much of a chance, he would be perfect for the job and sport. Here are the three reasons why Nelson as the new executive director of the NSAC would be great for MMA fans.
Kizer was often criticized during his tenure in charge of the NSAC. A repeated criticism was his insistence on using referees and judges who appeared ill-suited for the job, while not creating a culture where only the best referees and judges got the biggest assignments. The most glaring example was his refusal to use referee John McCarthy, despite his status as one of the sport's few elite officials.
It is safe to say that Kizer might have had a greater sense of urgency to fix the problems with officiating and judging if he came to his job with a fighter's perspective. Too many times fighters careers are set back or even ended by either early stoppages or terrible decisions. Someone who has made a living as a fighter definitely has a better understanding of the importance of competent referees and knowledgeable judges. With nearly ten years of MMA experience, Nelson is just the kind of person with such an understanding. As a result, it stands to reason that he would make cleaning up the situation a high priority.
Desire to Clean up the Sport
Speaking of cleaning things up, a constant concern in the MMA world has been the lack of a credible drug testing program. Since the early days of the sport, there have been fighters who have been caught juicing and suspicions of many others. Considering the potential danger of having a fighter with genetically-modified strength in the cage, having a clean sport is imperative to avoid the unnecessary risk of serious injury and add credibility.
That is where Nelson would fit in perfectly. For starters, due to having by far the least-athletic looking body in the UFC, there can be no doubt that Nelson himself has been clean throughout his career. Better yet, he has been an outspoken about the use and evils of PEDs in MMA, and has done his part to try to bring attention to the issue. There should be little doubt that Nelson would come down hard on PED users which would go a long way to finally remove the stigma of steroids from MMA forever.
Dana White Relationship
Regardless of any practical advantages of having Nelson head the most important athletic commission in the country, the best part about him getting the job would be the potential for an endless number of high-profile run-ins with White. It would be an understatement to suggest that Nelson and White haven't gotten along during the heavyweight's tenure with the UFC. Whether it be disgust in Nelson's physical condition (or lack thereof) in the octagon or with his provocative words outside of it, White has made clear that he thinks Nelson is an idiot.
If Nelson was now thrust into a role that required White to work with him on a consistent basis, there would likely be an endless amount of banter between the two, with Nelson constantly doing what he can to get under the UFC boss' skin. Plus, you could be sure that the NSAC under Nelson's watch would not go out of his way to cater to the UFC as many have accused other athletic commissions of doing from time to time. Needless to say, this is the kind of scenario successful reality shows are made from.
In reality, Roy Nelson probably has about as much of a chance as you or I to get the job as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. However, considering the combination of relevant knowledge and potential hijinks, seeing Nelson appointed to the post would provide the kind of endless entertainment that is rarely found in the MMA world.
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Del Pearson is a big MMA fan who has been to many live UFC events. His all-time favorite fighter is Randy Couture. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson44.
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