"There was no point staying in school," he told MMA Fighting. "I just wanted to get out there and dabble. Whether I'd be the most successful fighter in the world or a successful fighter at all, I still wanted to do this, to train and teach, eventually. To study this. Maybe I would’ve studied something else, but what I was doing in school, I wasn't interested in the way I was interested in this."
His interest was only matched by his aptitude for learning. Earning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is for many a lifetime quest. Some never receive it. Others take 15-20 years. Nelson received his in four years, and from Renzo Gracie, no less.
Nelson does not trumpet this accomplishment. In fact, he downplays it. A black belt "doesn't mean anything," he says. The meaning is in the journey.
Nelson acknowledges that he doesn't feel a huge amount of joy in the immediate aftermath of a win. Most of his satisfaction comes in the gym, with progress and development. The fight? It has real consequences.
"There is a small bit of tension release because you know the situation is over," he said. "There is a different energy after the fight, but I'd say my mind is more with my opponent than myself in being happy. At least in that stage."
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