While the result isn’t what he hoped for, Huntsville native Kyle Nelson says he’s “never felt more comfortable” in the octagon than he did over the weekend at UFC Fight Night 208.
In a close fight, Nelson lost to Jai Herbet by unanimous decision. It drops Nelson’s UFC record to one win with four losses (13-5 overall).
The judges scored the first round in Nelson’s favour, but rounds two and three went to Herbert. Nelson says he feels like he was able to land more strikes, however, Herbert was able to control him against the fence for a majority of the final two rounds. “He didn’t really do any damage or land any strikes, he just kind of held me against the fence and prevented me from doing anything,” he explains. That, Nelson thinks, is something the judges saw favourably.
Nelson sees it differently.
He believes he controlled the first two rounds “I think it was pretty obvious to anyone watching it,” he says.
The fight was in London, England’s O2 Arena. Herbert hails from nearby Wolverhampton, so Nelson says “being in enemy territory” he wanted to solidify the fight in the last round and tried to take Herbert down and control him on the mat. “I got a little sloppy with my takedowns and ended up slipping and my opponent was able to land on top,” he explains. “From that point, he just tried to hold on.”
Nelson says this was one of his better performances but, in hindsight, wishes he pushed for a finish more instead of letting it go to the judges.
It was Nelson’s first fight in a new weight class: lightweight. He was previously at featherweight. “I don’t think realized how much [the weight cut] affected my performances until this time around when I didn’t have to cut this much,” Nelson says.
He wants to get right back in the cage. “I didn’t really get hit much in that fight,” Nelson says. “I have no injuries. My hand is a little sore from hitting him but other than that I’m 100 percent ready to go.” After two straight losses in the UFC, Nelson says he wants to redeem himself and show off his ability in his new weight class.
In the leadup to the fight, Nelson says he received plenty of support from friends and others in the community who reached out to him through social media to congratulate him on his new contract and wish him luck. “Thanks to everyone in the Muskoka community for coming together and rallying behind me,” he says, adding he can’t wait to fight against and represent Muskoka.