Last Saturday fight sport fans from across Muskoka funneled into the local pubs and bars to watch what was being heralded as the fight of the century: Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather. Whether you watched the fight or not, it would have been safe to assume that Muskoka’s premier fighter, Kyle Nelson, would have been among the faces in the crowd.
But Nelson didn’t watch the fight – he wasn’t in Muskoka, or even Canada, at all. Instead, Nelson was in Las Vegas trying out for his own shot at the big screen: the 22 season of the hit TV show The Ultimate Fighter.
Nelson has an impressive record; at 24 he’s won six professional fights and is ranked as the number one fighter in Quebec, fourth in Ontario and sixth overall in Canada.
Since the beginning it has been Nelson’s goal to be the best of the best, so taking the titular title of the Ultimate Fighter seemed a logical step in the right direction.
Nelson competed against 300 other lightweight fighters in his quest to secure a spot on the show, a weight category he moved up to only days prior.
“I made it through the physical portion but I didn’t get into the TV interviews,” Nelson said.
It’s a bitter-sweet scenario for Nelson and his team (aptly named Team Monster after Nelson’s nickname of The Monster) who despite not receiving a call-back after the tryout believe the trip was well worth it.
“The Ultimate Fighter tryout was a great experience and the UFC quickly moved me through grappling, wrestling and striking portions,” Nelson said in a Facebook post addressing his fans. “This week in Vegas has reaffirmed that I can successfully compete with elite fighters.”
Jeremy Knight, Nelson’s training partner and occasional coach, echoed Nelson saying that the week cemented the fact that Nelson is performing at a high level.
“It was definitely a positive week for him,” Knight said. “One of the things we wanted to assess going down [to Las Vegas] was to know that [Nelson] is competing at a certain level, that he’s training at that level and can be competitive with the best in the world and we took that away from the tryout.”
Knight said that he believes preference was given to fighters with a larger number of matches under their belt.
“They were taking guys with more fights under their belt,” he said. “So a lot of the guys who got an interview were guys with professional records of 12 or 15 fights. We extrapolated that they put a lot of clout into those with just a little bit more professional experience.”
Despite not making it onto the show, Nelson and his crew were afforded the opportunity to train and network with some of the best in the sport.
“I got to train at Extreme Couture and I made some very valuable contacts there,” Nelson said.
Knight added that the team had the chance to train with UFC signed fighter Robert Drysdale.
“We’re welcome in Vegas,” Knight said. “We’ve been asked back to train with some people.”
When asked whether they would be going back to try out for upcoming seasons the team said they weren’t sure.
“It’s a big financial undertaking,” Knight said. “I think in the future he needs to set up some camps in the south with UFC affiliates.”