Grant Brothers MMA anniversary party: Q&A with Roy Nelson, Dan Hardy and Sean Pierson
By Matt Larkin
At the Grant Brothers MMA first anniversary bash, I caught up with UFC fighters Roy Nelson, Dan Hardy and Sean Pierson to find out what’s new and exciting in their fighting careers.
Nelson (15-5) is a former Ultimate Fighter winner and current UFC heavyweight contender.
M.L.: With Shane Carwin out due to a back injury, Brock Lesnar and Mirko Cro Cop have both popped up in rumors about your next opponent. Who would you like to fight next and why?
Roy Nelson: Brock Lesnar’s always a great fight. He just had the belt and he’s the longest running [heavyweight champion] in UFC history – granted he didn’t fight that much. I’d love to fight him. Cro Cop too, because Crop is a legend.
M.L.: Earlier this year, the MMA community talked about “The Era of the Super heavyweight” after seeing Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin dominate. But Cain Velasquez, one of the smallest heavyweights out there, changed everything with his win over Lesnar last month. As a smaller heavyweight yourself, do you have new hope for your future?
Roy Nelson: The thing about Lesnar or Velasquez…it’s your technique that makes you a fighter and it’s also what you have inside. If you have the heart of a fighter, then you’re a fighter. You can be the most athletic person in the world but if you don’t like being punched in the face, you’re not really a fighter. You might be able to play baseball instead.
M.L.: How has your life changed since winning The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights?
Roy Nelson: It’s the same old, same old. Except that when you make it “TV rich,” or whatever you want to call it, you tend to have more of an “X” on your back.
Dan Hardy (23-8, 1 NC) is a UFC welterweight and former No. 1 contender.
M.L.: After consecutive losses to Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit, what steps do you need to take to climb back up the welterweight ladder?
Dan Hardy: I’ve been thinking about nothing but that, to be honest. I’ve re-signed my contract, which is good. I’ve still got another four fights in the UFC and I’m excited about that. I need to get back to what I’m good at – and that’s striking. I didn’t give Condit the respect he deserved and it was a wake-up call. There are a lot of good guys in the division, a lot of good tests for me. I’m still young. I’m only 28. I don’t have my sights on anyone in particular but whoever the UFC throws at me, I’m prepared to fight.
M.L.: When you arrived in the Octagon for your last fight, I thought that was the biggest I’ve ever seen you. Have you ever thought about moving up to middleweight (185 pounds)?
Dan Hardy: I never thought earlier on in my career that I would be [a middleweight]. But, since I’ve been fighting in the UFC, I’ve gotten better coaches and better training. I have somebody taking care of the business side of [fighting] now so I can rest more. So it’s a possibility. I’m 200 pounds right now. I’ve got the size if I wanted but for now my focus is on 170.
M.L.: After fighting Georges St-Pierre, where do you rank him in the pound-for-pound debate?
Dan Hardy: In my opinion, GSP is number two behind Jose Aldo. I’ve got Aldo at the top because he’s been a bit more impressive the last couple of years. Obviously, GSP is amazing, but I think Jose Aldo has been so dominant and so decisive in his fights that I can’t dispute it. So I’ve got Jose Aldo first, GSP second and Anderson Silva third.
M.L.: Who do you think will be the next Canadian fighter to have a big impact in the UFC? Is it Rory MacDonald?
Dan Hardy: Canada’s always produced great talent. David Loiseau has always been one of my favorites. He’s a great fighter to watch. Very dynamic, very explosive. I think there’s a lot of talent right now in Canada. Rory MacDonald was great against Carlos Condit. I watched that fight, obviously, and I studied it. The only thing that let [MacDonald] down was experience. I think in another couple of years, he’ll be a force in the UFC.
Sean Pierson (10-4) coaches wrestling at Grant Brothers MMA. He signed with the UFC in late October and will make his debut in a welterweight bout against Matt Riddle at UFC 124 on December 11 in Montreal.
M.L.: How has your life changed since you signed with the UFC?
Sean Pierson: I had my dream of being in the UFC come true, so that’s huge. I’ve left my job at Dell Computers that I was at for eight years. But the funny thing is that training hasn’t changed at all. I’m still training all the time. I’ve got a little more time to train, but overall my life is pretty status quo.
M.L.: It’s December 11 in Montreal. You’re standing in the Octagon in front of 22,000 fans, staring across from Matt Riddle. The bell rings. What’s going through your head?
Sean Pierson: You can say a lot of things but I don’t know how I’m going to feel, because this is the UFC. Everybody says that they say “I’m not gonna get the jitters” and, afterwards, “Oh, I got the jitters.” I’m sure that’s going to be me as well. All I can do is prepare myself and realize I’ve been there before. I’ve fought in the Bell Centre, I’ve fought in Montreal, and everyone will be cheering for me versus [Riddle], being the Canadian boy. So I’ve got that on my side.
M.L. Can you discuss your game plan for Riddle?
Sean Pierson: I don’t really have a game plan, to be honest. I’m going to go in there and fight. I could run many different game plans in my head – what ifs, what ifs, what ifs. But I always find that if you set yourself up one way too much, then it doesn’t go your way, you’re too worried about plan B or C. I’ll go in with a strategy to start the fight but I know it could change on a dime. I could hit him, he could hit me, he could do something completely unpredictable and I don’t want to be set off by that. So I’ll go in there with a bunch of different game plans and see what happens. “
About Grant Brothers MMA & Boxing GYM: Located in the heart of North York, Grant Brothers Boxing & BJJ Gym offers world-class BJJ, Boxing, Judo, Muay Thai, Sambo, Wrestling and MMA training at real-world prices. Classes are taught by certified coaches with classes for men, women, children, adults, beginners and advanced. Private lessons and boxercise classes are also available.
Areas serviced include North York, Etobicoke, Toronto, Scarborough, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga.