Ontario’s Kyle Nelson jumps at chance to fight at UFC 231 in Toronto

December 6, 2018


Ontario’s Kyle Nelson jumps at chance to fight at UFC 231 in Toronto

Chris Doucette – With UFC 231 just days away, Kyle Nelson figured he’d be sitting on the sidelines as another fight card unfolded in Toronto — just down the road from his home in Huntsville.

But “The Monster” got some monstrous news Tuesday night when the UFC called his coach to ask if he’d be interested in stepping into the Octagon with Diego Ferreira at the Scotiabank Arena.

“It was hard to believe at first,” Nelson, 27, told the Toronto Sun.

He was doing cardio at House of Champions in Stoney Creek — where he trains and lives three days a week — when his coach Kru Alin Halmagean walked into the gym and broke the news

Nelson made it clear in Monday’s Sun he’d fight on short notice if the UFC needed someone for the Toronto card, so of course he accepted the challenge without hesitation.

The 27-year-old has been chasing his dream of fighting on the world’s biggest MMA stage since watching the first season of The Ultimate Fighter as a young teen back in 2005.

Now, after amassing an impressive 12-1 record since turning pro in 2012, his blood, sweat and sacrifice has finally landed him a UFC contract.

His first bout Saturday night against Ferreira — a Brazilian with a 13-2 MMA record, including 4 wins and 2 losses in the UFC — will be at lightweight and will surely test Nelson’s mettle.

Ferreira was originally slated to fight John “The Bull” Makdessi, but the Montrealer pulled out because of injury.

When the UFC offered the fight last week to London, Ont. fighter Jesse “The Body Snatcher” Ronson, Nelson was admittedly disheartened.

But his coach — owner of House of Champions — reminded him to be happy for Ronson, to “stay positive,” and told him “everything happens for a reason.”

As fate would have it, Ronson took to Facebook Tuesday explaining he had lost his chance to make a second run in the UFC because he was too heavy to safely cut to 155 pounds on short notice.

Ronson — who went 0-3 in his first stint in the UFC in 2013-14, losing all three fights by split decision — took to Facebook again Wednesday to explain his weight-cut woes.

Ultimately, opportunity knocked on Nelson’s door and he answered the bell — even though the fight is at lightweight.

“In life you have to take the chances that are put in front of you, so it only took a second for Kyle to say yes to this fight,” Halmagean said. “It could have been Conor McGregor and he’d have taken the fight.”

“It’s a dream come true for him and for me as a coach,” he said, adding “in life you have to stay positive and good things will happen.”

Nelson prefers to compete in the 145 pound featherweight division, but his last three fights have been at 155 and he has crushed his opponents.

Ferreira, 34, is a battle-tested fighter with a strong ground game who has competed in the UFC since 2014. His only losses have been to Beneil Dariush, a top 20 lightweight, and Dustin Poirier, ranked 4th in the UFC’s 155 pound division.

He’s no joke,” Hamlamgean said of Ferreira. “He’s a veteran who has been deep in the trenches with some of the best fighters in the world.”

“But he’s going to have his hands full and I promise Kyle will put on a show,” he said, urging fans to show up early and get behind the local fighter.

Nelson acknowledged Ferreira is “a tough guy” with “a great record,” but he advised the Brazilian not to take him lightly.

“I think I’ve got him beat when it comes to power and technique if we’re standing,” he said. “But I’ve also been training jiu-jitsu for 14 years, so I’m no slouch on the ground either.”

“And I’d be happy to choke him out if I get the chance,” Nelson added.

After learning he’d be on the UFC 231 card, he immediately called his wife and his mother in Hunstville.

“They’re pretty ecstatic,” Nelson said. “They’ve been beside me for the whole ride, so it’s as exciting for them as it is for me.”

He has a busy few days ahead but Nelson said he can’t wait to make his UFC debut in front of a hometown crowd with friends and family in attendance.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said.



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