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Roy Nelson: ‘This has been the crappiest camp I've ever had'

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Andy Hemingway, MMA Fighting

HOUSTON, TX -- As it turns out, the threat of trimming his bushy facial locks has been the least of Roy Nelson's worries throughout the lead-up to UFC 166.

"This has actually probably been the crappiest camp that I've ever had," Nelson admitted on Wednesday. "It is what it is."

The root of Nelson's problems began in mid-September, when his head boxing coach, Jeff Mayweather, suffered a mild heart attack after drinking an energy drink. The 49-year-old wound up hospitalized for weeks.

Doctors subsequently diagnosed Mayweather with "full-blown diabetes," and from there things only got worse.

"I lost Jeff probably about two weeks into camp," Nelson explained.

"I lost (training partner Muhammed ‘King) Mo' Lawal. I lost Ryan Martinez, because in Bellator he broke his hand. It was just one of those camps where anything possibly that could've happened, happened. So you just kind of deal with (it). I mean, I've been in the game long enough to know what I'm supposed to do and put the work in. And at the end of the day, that's what it is."

Despite his mounting myriad of setbacks, Nelson says he never considered pulling out of his showdown with Daniel Cormier, or even asking the UFC to delay the bout.

"That's how other fighters work," Nelson said. "All the other fighters are like, ‘Ah, my big toe hurts,' worrying about all that other stuff. People are paying to see me fight. I'm going to put on a show, and the UFC, that's what they expect out of me, is to put on a show and go out there and fight.

"At the end of the day, if everybody knew half the crap that everybody has gone through, what pains and aches, they'd be like, ‘Dude, why are you fighting?'"

True to form, Nelson remains dead-set on giving fans their money's worth on October 19. Though the past few months certainly haven't provided the ideal preparation he'd hoped for, particularly as he looks to rebound from what he calls "the crappiest performance" of his life.

Last June, Nelson accepted a short notice fight against lightly regarded Stipe Miocic. Nelson entered the bout riding the most impressive wave of momentum of his career, yet lost in resounding fashion, all but ruining the swell of negotiating leverage he'd amassed to ink a lucrative new contract with the UFC.

Nelson now admits that all the contract talk became a "little distraction." Though it's true his upcoming opponent, Cormier, is facing a distraction of his own, having vowed to drop down to light heavyweight after UFC 166, win or lose.

Yet Nelson is sporting a noticeably slimmer frame as well, and he doesn't believe Cormier's impending division change will have any negative bearing on their co-main event clash.

"If he can wrestle at more of his natural weight, I think it'll probably be better," Nelson said.

"He's not a guy who used his weight to take you down and lay on you, try to stall you out. He's more of the guy who pushes you against the cage and stalls you out. That's not a weight thing. That's more leverage and technique."