As Roy “Big Country” Nelson knows, coming out on top in the reality TV world can be a huge boost to a fighter’s career. After all, the heavyweight with the crushing right hand was a winner on “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights,” and it was a victory that propelled him into a contract with the UFC. Now, Nelson is looking to help a group of Japanese MMA fighters make their next steps towards greatness, as one of two coaches for the TV series, “Road to UFC: Japan.”
For the show, eight fighters from diverse backgrounds and martial arts styles will be training with Nelson and fellow coach, Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett. During the season, the trainees will square off in matches of their own, and one finalist from each team will be selected to join the card on September 27, for “Fight Night Japan: Nelson vs. Barnett” at the Super Arena in Saitama.
Big Country says that his Japanese trainees already have serious technique, but their hunger to fight in the top level of mixed martial arts competition surprises even him: “these guys are MMA veterans, but their focus and determination to get into the UFC is so fierce, sometimes I need to get them to conserve their energy a little.”
Barnett agrees with Nelson when it comes to the attitude of the Japanese fighters, “they are incredible… training hard and never even taking a step backwards when given a task”—a quality that he thinks is “the kind of thing that if pointed in the right direction can be unstoppable.”
“I expect growth and evolution from all the fighters I worked with. I can’t say for sure what any of their successes will be but I know that if they come away from this even a little bit better then they are doing the right things. I know I saw great things in all the fighters I picked and know they can climb very high indeed.”
Although Nelson thinks that the overall level of MMA in this country needs to return to what it was at in the early 2000s, he thinks that the talent of his trainees, and the fans that they have already begun to inspire, are a good sign of things to come for the UFC in Japan.
As for his own matchup against the 191 cm, 114 kg Barnett, Nelson is promising a “heavyweight war.” Both of these UFC big men are known for their grappling skills, but Nelson predicts that he will defeat Barnett standing up, and has been focusing on more traditional martial arts in his training to prepare for the fight.
As expected, Barnett’s confidence is also high: “I feel like there isn’t anything an opponent is going to show me that I haven’t seen or can counter. I have won world titles in the past and continue to do so now. I am ready for any challenge.”
Will the brawler out of Nevada be able to make good on his promise to defeat Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett?
Get yourself a ticket for the action on September 27 to find out.
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