"My wife is scarier than my fights. I'm willing to die in the ring"
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is in Abu Dhabi on April 11. We speak to fighters Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira ahead of their showpiece bout.
Put two very large, very tough men who like to punch and kick things into a cage, shut the door and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. This is the set-up for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout between heavyweights Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Abu Dhabi on April 11.
The world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation is on a two-year tour of Europe, Middle East and Africa, with the Abu Dhabi bout the second of six events in 2014.
The largest pay-per-view event provider in the world, UFC produces more than 40 live events a year.
Brazilian Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira, A.K.A. Big Nog, excels at Brazilian jiu-jitsu. American Roy “Big Country” Nelson began his training in Shaolin Kung Fu, holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and won Season 10 of US TV show The Ultimate Fighter. If you’re feeling brave, read on to hear from the men themselves.
ROY ‘BIG COUNTRY’ NELSON
What’s your biggest strength? My heart and determination. I’m willing to die in the ring.
Why UFC? Seeing fighters making money made me mad. I figured I’d go take their money.
What’s your pre-fight preparation? Training twice a day, six days a week. Training ranges from boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, to strengthening and conditioning. The fight is the fun part. It’s like riding a roller coaster – the training is the way up and the fight is the ride down.
What goes through your mind during a fight? You can’t think about stuff besides the actual fight. Thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’m losing’ takes you away from the fight. You have to be in the now.
What is your biggest fear? My wife. I don’t have a fear in the octagon [ring].
What’s your signature move? Sitting on top of the cage, rubbing my belly. Apart from that, knocking someone out with my right hand.
Diet? Simple things like carbs and protein.
If you weren’t a UFC fighter what would you be? Before I was a fighter, I was a primary school teacher. I can always go back to that.
ANTONIO ‘MINOTAURO’ NOGUEIRA
What’s your biggest strength? I push the fight. I go for it. I don’t play defensive or play for points like some guys.
Why UFC? My brother is five years older than me. He used to beat me up. Martial arts became a way to protect myself.
What’s your pre-fight preparation? I do a lot of yoga and stretching. I put a game plan together with my coaches and I think about what I’m going to do and what’s going to happen.
What goes through your mind during a fight? I have a strategy. I think if I walk this way, [my opponent] will come to my left. If I walk that way, he will come my right. But I have repeated these moves so many times in training that I can trust my instinct during a fight.
What’s your biggest fear? Not performing as well as I can. Whether I win or lose a fight, I have to know I must give 100 per cent.
What’s your signature move? The spinning choke.
Diet? Fish, chicken, rice. I like to eat light foods. If I eat heavy foods, I can’t perform so well in a fight.
If you weren’t a UFC fighter what would you be? A farmer. I like cows.
Fight fans are invited to the official afterparty on Friday night, at O1NE Yas Island with resident DJ’s CJ and Dimix.