Big Country Back! Roy Nelson to Face Dillon Cleckler in Gamebred Bareknuckle Bout on May 5

Roy Nelson - Big Country - Bellator MMA
Roy 'Big Country' Nelson, Bellator 216 Credit: Mike McClory/Cageside Press

Heavyweight legend and The Ultimate Fighter 10 winner Roy Nelson is headed back to action next month.

Though seemingly retired since his stint with Bellator MMA came to an end, “Big Country” is set to compete against Dillon Cleckler as part of a Gamebred Bareknuckle bout on May 5, 2023 at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL.

While the “bareknuckle” reference might suggest boxing to some fans, Gamebred Bareknuckle is actually Jorge Masvidal’s bareknuckle MMA promotion — and per a video announcement by “Gamebred” announcing the fight, the card will be sanctioned by the State of Florida.

“This guy does everything big,” Masvidal exclaimed while announcing the return of one of the UFC’s most popular heavyweights in his heyday.

Masvidal, who retired in the octagon earlier this month at UFC 287, has for the past couple of years been wearing the promoter’s hat, and doing a solid job for the most part, juggling combat promotions including Jorge Masvidal’s iKon FC, Gamebred Boxing, and Gamebred FC (Gamebred Bareknuckle).

Nelson (23-19 MMA), 46, last competed in 2020 in a losing effort against Valentin Moldavsky at Bellator 244, after which he was released by the promotion. It was the fifth straight loss for Nelson, though many had him winning what was ultimately a majority decision loss against Matt Mitrione as part of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2018.

“Big Country” holds notable wins over Stefan Struve, Cheick Kongo, Brendan Schaub, Bigfoot Silva, Mirko Cro-Cop and others.

Cleckler is 11-1 in MMA, but has become better known for his bare-knuckle efforts, competing for BKFC on multiple occasions, and fighting for their heavyweight title.

Nelson vs. Cleckler will serve as the Gamebred Bareknuckle main event on May 5.


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