There’s no bad blood between Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, but the May 28 heavyweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is definitely a personal one—the two Las Vegas natives are battling for bragging rights in their hometown.
“The only thing we’re fighting for right now is gym time,” jokes Nelson, who actually had to give up training at the same private UFC gym as Mir as they prepare for their match at UFC 130—which will be headlined by a nontitle fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Matt Hamill.
The two Las Vegans—the 34-year-old Nelson graduated from Cimarron-Memorial High, and the 31-year-old Mir attended Bonanza High and won a state wrestling championship as a senior—are no strangers, having trained together several times.
Both fighters know that a win puts them back into championship contention in the sport’s big-boy division.
“Roy is a tough guy, and I haven’t really looked beyond it. I think anyone that looks past him ends up having a rough night,” says Mir (14-5 MMA, 12-5 UFC), the former UFC champ whose last fight in Las Vegas came in a title-tilt loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 in July 2009. Mir won his last fight with a knockout of Mirko Filipović in September.
Nelson (15-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC), who earned his UFC popularity with his colorful personality on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter (where he also defeated YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice) is coming off a tough three-round loss to Junior dos Santos in August.
However, he does hold a victory over Mir in their only official bout, defeating him in a Brazilian jiujitsu tournament in 2003.
“That match was about eight or nine years ago,” Nelson says. “We’re doing MMA now—and I’m a bigger, fatter guy now.”