Locals Mir, Nelson alike only in desire to earn shot at title

Two divergent paths will intersect when Frank Mir and Roy Nelson meet in the cage tonight.

Both were born and raised in Las Vegas and were standout athletes at local high schools. Both are contenders in the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight division and will meet for a spot near the top of the rankings at UFC 130 tonight at the MGM Grand.

Other than that, from their career paths to their demeanors to their looks, not much is the same.

Mir, 32, was in the UFC in just his third pro fight, only a few years out of Bonanza High School. He became a UFC champion at age 25 and has been one of the organization’s bigger stars much of the time since.

He looks every bit the part of professional athlete and can deliver a lengthy monologue on just about any subject.

Nelson, 34, is a Cimarron-Memorial alumnus who tries to lobby for shampoo endorsements for his mullet and a fast-food sponsor for his gut.

He takes little seriously, including himself, and just about everything he says is tinged with sarcasm.

His was a much more circuitous route to UFC stardom.

Nelson, a Renzo Gracie black belt in jiujitsu, was more interested in the teaching side of martial arts than becoming a cage fighter.

"He wanted to be a fighter and be famous and look pretty and all that jazz," Nelson said of Mir. "I just wanted to teach. I was helping out fighters, and then I couldn’t pay my bills because they weren’t getting paid, so I decided to go out there and fight and get my money."

While Mir was rising to stardom, Nelson languished in organizations such as FightForce and BodogFight before making a name for himself in the International Fight League. Even when he did sign with the UFC, he was placed on "The Ultimate Fighter," winning the Season 10 tournament.

Mir and Nelson, who first became aware of each other in 2000 when both were training at gyms just down the street from one another, have squared off before, though not in a mixed martial arts fight.

Though both dismiss it as a long time ago and under different rules, Nelson defeated Mir in a grappling competition in 2003.

Now, they meet with a great deal at stake in the UFC. The winner could find himself one win from a title shot.

Despite the similar backgrounds, Mir and Nelson aren’t particularly close, even though there has been a bizarre media-created storyline this week of two fighters putting their friendship on the line for their careers.

"I would say cordial," Mir said of the relationship. "I like Roy. I think he has a very intelligent outlook on a lot of things. For the most part — I’m not going to lie to anybody — we’re not the best of friends. But we have a lot of mutual friends that are very close."

Nelson echoed the sentiment.

"As for Frank and I being close, I’ve never eaten at Frank’s house, so that tells you how close of friends we are," he said. "I would never fight a real friend."

One thing they agree on is a preference for fighting in their hometown. Mir said he enjoys sleeping at home and staying in his routine.

Nelson has other reasons.

"Fighting at home is the best. Everything is open 24/7," he said. "You can get burgers any time of day or night."

The bout is part of a card headlined by a light heavyweight match between Matt Hamill and former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

Also on the undercard, Brian Stann could move into the top 10 in the middleweight rankings with a win over Jorge Santiago.

Also, the UFC’s two tallest fighters — Stefan Struve (6 feet 11 inches) and Travis Browne (6-7) — will meet in a heavyweight bout, and Rick Story takes on former No. 1 welterweight contender Thiago Alves.

The pay-per-view broadcast will air live at 6 p.m. Two fights will air live on Spike TV (Cable 29) at 5 p.m. The remainder of the undercard will stream live on the UFC’s Facebook page at 3.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

Covering The Cage Videos
Covering the Cage: UFC 222 recap
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC 222
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Recap
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the main card fights including Cris Cyborg keeping her title, Bryan Ortega's win over Frankie Edgar and Sean O'Malley fighting through an injury.
UFC 222: Fight Preview
Covering the cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang provide a preview for UFC 222 as well as their predictions.
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the top fights to watch for at UFC 222 including Cris Cyborg and Brian Ortega.
Covering The Cage: Live Interview With Elias Theodorou
Covering The Cage host Heidi Fang talks with Elias Theodorou to preview UFC on Fox and becoming a ring boy.
Covering the Cage: Roy Nelson interview
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk about the world of MMA as well as interview heavyweight Roy Nelson.
Covering the Cage: Feb. 6 Facebook Live
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC Fight Night 125 as well as preview UFC 221 and UFC 222.
Covering The Cage: Ronda Rousey joins WWE; UFC on Fox 27 recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss Ronda Rousey’s move to WWE and recap UFC on Fox 27.
Covering the Cage: Jordan Rinaldi, UFC on Fox 27 preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk to fighter Jordan Rinaldi about his upcoming fight and preview the rest of UFC on Fox 27.
Covering The Cage Live: UFC 220 and Bellator 192 Recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap UFC 220 and Bellator 192.
Covering the Cage: Recapping 2017
Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over their favorite moments of 2017 and pick their favorite fight, knockout and submission of the year.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Recap
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap tonights fights at UFC 219.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Picks
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang give their picks for the main card fights at UFC 219.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Preview
Covering the Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang preview UFC 219 including Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm.
UFC 219 media day staredowns
Ahead of UFC 219's pay-per-view on Dec. 30, the stars of the main card faced off at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Cris "Cyborg" Justino will face Holly Holm in the main event for the women's featherweight belt.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like