File Photo: D. Herbertson/Sherdog.com
On getting picked late during team selections: “Everybody forgets that (coach Rashad Evans’) best friend was James McSweeney. Brendan Schaub is part of his camp. There's a lot of other political factors that has nothing to do with actual fighting.”
On possibly being overlooked as the TUF winner: “Not really. The way I look at it is I'm co-headlining a main event right after winning the show. The only person who's had a tougher road than I had is Matt Serra who knocked out GSP. Everybody else has had the easy road so not really, I'm co-headlining a main event. I feel like I'm put right there in the fire and hopefully I can perform and do really well.”
Does Nelson have game on the courts? “I had to go back to my b-ball skills so it was pretty good. I can hoop it up and at the same time if someone wanted to pick a fight, I can also beat them up. That was one thing on the show they didn't show. Me and Scott Junk are ballers. Everybody else kind of sucked. I'm an athlete. Most of these fighters aren't.”
On the politics of the fight game: “Politics are one thing I'm kind of good at and kind of bad at. I'm one of those politicians that I'm a straight shooter. I can't double talk. So that makes it hard for some of my other politics issues. Being a straight shooter, its great for the fans because I'll tell you exactly how it is. I understand the whole entertainment side, putting on a show but if it's bulls--- it's bulls--- and I'll be the first one to call shenanigans. Kind of like on the show I did that with Rashad and the whole coaching staff with some of their training techniques, that kind of shenanigans. I wouldn't do that, that's kind of stupid. It ended up working out in my favor because they had to listen because if not, they were going to be douchebags.”
How did TUF 10 go for him? “I think I was fine. The way I looked at it from the entertainment side, if I had been on Rampage's team I was probably going to end up being the coach of the team, then I would've gotten more face time, which would have been fine with me. Then Rashad's team was just the whole (Greg) Jackson camp and seeing what things they offer that I haven't seen before. I've been in the game way too long and there's things that I've seen way before and there are things that they added to my game with training. It was all beneficial for me being on Rashad's team.
How has Nelson’s popularity changed since TUF 10?
“I actually find it funny because the IFL did the whole backtracking when they put Ben (Rothwell) up there as the poster boy. I've had some political issues with that before, especially when I fought Ben. But then after I won the IFL belt they wanted to change their stories because now they wanted to push me because that's what fans wanted. It's so hard to kind of get it through some of these promotions the kind of person I am. They completely forgot the whole concept of the game. Tank Abbott was one of the biggest poster children of the UFC. That's how Frank Mir made his name when he first beat Tank Abbott. Tank Abbott was the name but the thing about Tank is he couldn't fight. He had the personality part. He had the entertainment part but he just forgot the fighting part and that's what wins in this business is the fights. My management, they always say to win “The Ultimate Fighter” was a PR stunt and it worked in our favor. Now fans now want to go to Wal-Mart and walk down the street and people know who I am besides the hardcore MMA fans and the MMA fighters.
Where does Nelson rank among other TUF winners?
“I think I'll do pretty well. Like I said, the only person who's had a harder road is Matt Serra and he fought for the belt right after and he won it. That's kind of what I was hoping. When I was in the house I was joking around saying as soon as I win let me fight Brock (Lesnar) right after that. They didn't think I was funny -- half the guys -- but at the same time I was being serious. I'm a little bit older. I don't want to be Randy (Couture). I don't want to fight when I'm 40-plus. I don't want to be (Mark) Coleman. I don't want to be Ken Shamrock. I want to be the guy that fights the best in the world and do it now and not when I'm a lot older. I think for the most part I'm going to be right in the mix. I think this is probably the best time -- if you want to fight the best in the world -- this is the best time to be in the UFC because before every fight was made that was in the UFC a couple of years ago all I'd have to do was beat two guys and I'd be ranked in the top 10 or even ranked No. 1 overall in the world since that's just how the division was a couple of years ago.”