LAS VEGAS – Roy Nelson doesn't exactly fit the profile of a Mayweather boxer. The heavyweight contender, who meets Dave Herman on the main card of UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden on Saturday, winds up and fires as if he's throwing a discus.
His striking game is all about power and landing telling blows. He often seems as if he's willing to take three punches to land the one that ends the fight.
He's at the opposite end of the spectrum from Floyd Mayweather Jr., the world's top-ranked boxer who has turned defense into an art form.
Don't expect Nelson to do the shoulder roll Saturday, but you might see a bit of Mayweather influence in his game. Nelson has brought in Floyd's uncle, Jeff, who was one of Floyd's original trainers, to help him with his boxing.
Of course, only Nelson could invoke the Shaolin monks, dragons, lions and monkey kung fu into an answer about a question regarding Mayweather's influence on his boxing skills.
"The biggest thing is, I'm just trying to get better and Jeff brings something I hadn't seen before," Nelson said. "This camp, I went back to just being a martial artist and learning from everything. The Shaolin monks used to take a look at a bug like a [praying] mantis and go, 'How's it perform? How does it act?' They'd then apply that to themselves. They did the same kind of things with monkeys. Then you get monkey kung fu. The five animals of kung fu, from a lion to a dragon, that type of thing.
"The bottom line is learning, improving, getting better. You just take something from someone and try to apply it to what you do. It doesn't matter if it's fighting or if it's life or what. You just have to learn lessons when you can and where you find them."
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Nelson has lost three of his last four, including his last outing when he dropped a decision to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143 in February. It was an exciting back-and-forth fight that left UFC president Dana White smiling at the post-fight news conference.
White hasn't always been Nelson's biggest fan and the two men have had contentious moments. On that occasion, though, despite the loss, White wholeheartedly approved of Nelson's bout.
Nelson isn't necessarily looking to win the president's approval. In addition to running the business, White is a big fight fan and Nelson's desire to please him is in White's role as a fan, not as the boss.
While many fighters walk on eggshells around White and treat him reverentially, Nelson has a different take. He's not out to tweak his boss; it's just that he perceives the boss the same as the paying customers.
"As an athlete, you're doing it for the sports part of it, and because it's a job," Nelson said. "But make no mistake, what we do is entertainment, and so, on the entertainment side, you have to be conscious of that and play it for the fans. You try to give the fans what they want."
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The legendary boxing trainer Georgie Benton used to tell his fighters, "Win this fight. Look good in the next one."
If Nelson were only looking to improve his record, he would have been wise to heed that advice. But in his eight years as a professional fighter, he's gotten a pretty good sense of what MMA fans like.
And, with all due respect to his new striking coach, aren't enthralled by watching a guy slip punches and block them with their shoulders.
"The fans are the ones who pay the bills at the end of the day," Nelson said. "Winning is kind of important, but it's not the ultimate. I did 'The Ultimate Fighter.' I did MMA before I went into the UFC and I just went out there and won in spectacular fashion. Then, I went on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and won in unspectacular fashion by GSP standards, so to speak: Go out there, put a good game plan together, play it safe and go out and just win. I got a lot of criticism for that. But at the end of the day, I was a winner. You're not going to get fans one way or another. I just say 'Pick your poison.'
"Dana is a fan of the sport, but it's not his hard-earned money [that I'm fighting for]. It's the collective unit. If he was the one saying, 'You know, I'm going to set up these fights, put up a hundred million dollars and just give it to you,' I'd be like, 'You know what, what do you want me to do? Cut my hair? Shave my beard? You want me to be a dancing monkey? What do you want me to do?' He's not the one who does that. I've already done my market research with the fans."
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