If you take a glimpse at former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar’s last two fights, you will notice that something significant is missing in each of those bouts.
Greg Nelson, who serves as the head coach over at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy was a key factor in Lesnar’s training camps for his first four UFC fights. This includes his wins over Heath Herring, Randy Couture and his destruction of Frank Mir at UFC 100.
However, after returning from a severe intestinal disorder, Lesnar chose not to work with Nelson for his fight with Shane Carwin at UFC 116.
He also didn’t train with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy coach for his following bout with Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 that cost him the heavyweight championship.
In a recent appearance on Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun MMA Radio, Nelson gave his perspective on why he wasn’t working with Lesnar for those two fights.
“Well we’re getting back on track, you know, I had a lot of stuff going on. We had a lot of guys fighting at that point in time and Brock had a good number of people up there that he was working with,” Nelson told Mitch Ciccarelli and Stephanie Ann Cook on Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun Radio.
“He had brought in a different boxing coach so there was a little bit of a change in his camp and I was able to dedicate 100% of my time to Sean Sherk, Nik Lentz and Jacob Volkmann [who had back-to-back fights] at that point so it was kind of a collaboration of a whole bunch of things that took Lesnar and I apart for [the Carwin and Velasquez fights].”
Lesnar will return to the Octagon in June to battle deadly striker Junior dos Santos with the winner set to square off with Velasquez for the title at a later date.
But before the actual fight, Lesnar and dos Santos will serve as coaches on the upcoming 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV, which will feature a cast of welterweight prospects.
The news surprised many people, including Nelson, who didn’t expect the private Lesnar to be willing to spend six weeks away from his family to film a reality television series.
“It definitely surprised me as well because he’s a very private guy right now. He was in the limelight for so long with the WWE and that was literally 300 days a year that he was on the road,” Nelson said.
“He was competing three times a week in the WWE and constantly having cameras shoved in his face non-stop. So when he left there he really made a split. He started to live a life of seclusion to the point where he didn’t have a cell phone, didn’t have a computer at his house, or anything. It was like he was living back in the 1800’s out there,” Nelson said.
Nevertheless, Nelson believes this could be a great opportunity for Lesnar to silence his haters. Coming from his background in professional wrestling, many MMA fans refuse to accept Lesnar as a legitimate MMA fighter.
In fact, with a 5-2 record and just barely four years experience competing in MMA, many of Lesnar’s detractors doubt that the former heavyweight champion is capable of mentoring a team of young prospects working their way up.
Nelson disagrees entirely with the critics and looks at Lesnar’s background in amateur wrestling as a sign that coaching will come naturally to him.
“It’s really hard to say but he kind of goes back to his roots a little bit,” Nelson said.
“He was a guy that never won a state championship in wrestling when he was in high school and then he went to a Junior College and got to the point where he finally got the grades and recruiting to go to Division I at The University of Minnesota.”
“Then he became a runner-up and then a Division 1 national champion so he knows what it’s like to be that guy that wasn’t even a recruit, wasn’t even looked at by colleges to be a heavyweight recruit. Then all of a sudden he really put the extra work in and had coaches spend time with him, and then he matured into that body of his.”
“He was able to perform at such a high level so if he can go back to that thought process of, you know, here’s a bunch of guys that are starting out and trying to make a mark for themselves just like he did, he’s going to do his best to help them out. He knows what it’s like and he’s done it and for me that would be great if he was able to show that side of him,” Nelson said.
Of course, another thing that Lesnar’s critics bring up is the short-fused temper that the former collegiate wrestling powerhouse allegedly has.
Lesnar is a ferocious competitor and isn’t shy to take to the microphone, either, as we saw at UFC 100 after his victory over Mir. From simply watching Lesnar on television it’s easy to form a dislike for him, but the real Brock Lesnar is an incredible human being to be around.
He has a great sense of humor and absolutely loves his family, which Nelson explains in more detail.
“The thing with Brock, just like with a lot of high level athletes, is that he’s very intense. He’s going to be intense at whatever he does so when he starts to get going and rendering his emotions people can misconstrue that a lot,” Nelson said.
“He definitely has that nice person in him but at the same time when he’s around people he really wants those people to perform to their potential. I’m sure we’re going to see some tense moments on the show where he’s going to be kind of saying ‘Hey, I want more out of you guys. This is a chance that you have and you can blow it and I’m not going to sit around and let you blow it while I’m around’,” Nelson said.
“There’s going to be some intensity going on but at the same time we are going to see different sides of him, for sure.”
How will Brock come across on TUF?
To hear the full interview, click the link to listen to the entire episode of CTHL Radio. Nelson also went into more detail on the matchup with Junior dos Santos as well as discussing the other fighters he coaches such as Sean Sherk, Nik Lentz, Jacob Volkmann, Paul Bradley, Jon Madsen, etc.
Mitch Ciccarelli is the sexiest columnist in MMA. A staff writer for Heavy MMA, featured columnist for B/R and host of Crouching Tiger Hidden Leprechaun MMA Radio, Ciccarelli is also a future United States Airman beginning basic training this March. He is also engaged to Eva Mendes and Jessica Simpson.
Follow Ciccarelli on twitter, unless you have herpes. @MitchCiccarelli