Rejection can lead to one of two things. It could see someone fall into a pit of despair from which they never seem to be able to pull themselves out. Or, rejection could see them dedicate their life to showing everybody that they deserve the prize that they are chasing.

No, this isn’t the story of a heartbroken 16-year-old boy who is trying his damndest to win over a girl that he thinks is the love of his life. This is the story of Corey “Major” Nelson and how being told he wasn’t good enough to be the next Ultimate Fighter fueled him to become the No. 1 fighter at welterweight in Australia.

The latest round of The Ultimate Fighter tryouts doesn’t mark the first time that Nelson has tried his hand at the UFC’s reality series. He tried out for The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes and he, like many others, was astonished that he didn’t make the final cut.

Nelson (R) delivers a kick (Chris dela Cruz/Sherdog)

“Last time I got down to the final nine, and even then I was so confident that I would get picked,” Nelson admitted in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Going in there, I was coming off a win over Dan Pauling, and when I looked around that room at who was left, I didn’t think there was any way I wouldn’t get picked.

“When I got the phone call saying I wasn’t chosen, it just made me want to go back out there and win fights even more and show everyone that I am the best fighter at welterweight in the country. We have learnt from last time, and I am pretty confident that I will get in there, but you can never be too confident with these things [laughs].

“Afterwards, we sat down and looked at what was next. The first thing we wanted to do was conquer Australia and then branch out into the rest of the world. It has worked, and I only really have one more major title that I need to win until we have all of them, and that’s something that I have a guaranteed shot at already.”

With his current fight record, along with his current dominance over the rest of his competition in Australia, Nelson is in the perfect position leading into the tryouts. One of Nelson’s career losses is to TUF Smashes winner Robert Whittaker, and Nelson plans to replicate Whittaker’s TUF journey in the upcoming series.

“I see me as being the same as Whittaker, and I think that I have what it takes to win the whole thing,” he exclaimed. “I know that I can showcase some exciting fights and that I will bring the fight every single time I go in there. Out of my last six fights, I have finished five of them. That is just what I aim to do every time I go into the cage.”

Like many fighters who find success through The Ultimate Fighter series, Nelson heads into the trials sporting a full-time job as well as full-time aspirations in making mixed martial arts his one and only means of his livelihood.

Nelson (Chris dela Cruz/Sherdog)

“At the moment I deliver Gyprock, which I do working for my older brother,” he said. “Before that, I was a brickies labourer, and that job definitely toughened me up [laughs]. It was hard work, though, and it took its toll on my willingness to always keep training. Working for my brother is great because he really wants to see me do well and he supports my career just as much as I do, and he’s really flexible in giving me time off.”

Even with his collection of titles, combined with his six-fight winning streak, Nelson still finds himself without the help of a major sponsor, which is something that many other fighters in the country boast. He has his core team that is still with him and who have supported him since close to day one of his fight career, but he is yet to secure support of a mainstream sponsor.

As all fighters know, the sponsorship side of the sport is unforgiving to deal with and the rewards are not generally seen until reaching the sport’s pinnacle, but Nelson knows his potential and knows moreso that people are going to be disappointed that they didn’t get on board earlier.

“I still can’t believe it, and it’s a little bit frustrating,” he admitted. “You see these guys who cross over from other sports and they get multi-year big-name sponsors straight up, and it’s a bit shit for guys like me who have been working fucking hard for years. I guess on one side it’s great for the sport, but it’s just surprising I haven’t had any offers being that I am the best in the country at my weight.”

It only took one instance of rejection to see Nelson assert his dominance on the Australian circuit. There is next to no chance that he will be rejected this time around when he enters the race to become the next Australian Ultimate Fighter winner, and he plans to show exactly what the world missed out on when he was told that he wasn’t good enough to compete with the best fighters in the world.

Corey would like to thank KMA Sydney, Century Martial Arts, F.A.C.A.A (Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia) and Armour Mouthguards. Follow Nelson on Twitter: @coreynelson9

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.