On Tuesday night, I got to catch up with The Ultimate Fighter‘s Jesse Taylor while he was “carbing up” at the buffet with some Team Quest buddies. In the short time we spoke, we were able to cover a bunch of topics, including getting a second chance in the UFC, being “the drunk guy” on The Ultimate Fighter, A.A., training for C.B. Dollaway, and the recent controversial Forrest Griffin vs. “Rampage” Jackson fight.
Paul Balsom: So how’s training going for you?
Jesse Taylor: Training’s going great. I got Thierry Sokoudjou, Dan Henderson, Fernando Gonzalez, the list goes on an on. I have world-class fighters to train with on a day-to-day basis.
PB: Can you address some of the rumors going around about some unrest among some of the fighters at Team Quest? Is there any truth to that?
JT: Yeah, I’m up at Team Quest now, training there. You’re going to have problems wherever you go, but it’s just normal stuff. Everything is pretty good.
PB: So as far as you go, you’re not going anywhere for a while, right?
JT: No, I’m trying to stay with Team Quest for a while, man. I definitely plan on staying with them for a very long time.
PB: Let’s rewind a bit back to the show. When Dana White pulled you back into the office of the training center after the incident in the hotel, did you have any idea what was going on?
JT: No, I showed up there and had no real idea of what was going on. They told me that it was just follow up interviews. Then they busted out the surveillance video and I saw the looks on their faces so I started to realize. So when Dana told me, it was obviously a big big bummer. It was just a huge letdown for me.
PB: We both know what was aired during that episode, in the interviews and in the footage, Dana White kind of made it seem like there was definitely no UFC in your future. Did he let on at all that he might give you a chance down the road?
JT: At first, he was telling me, “No more UFC” and then I think he saw my reaction, and he saw how devastated I was. Plus, you can’t deny the fact that I won all of my fights on the show. So, I guess there came a time when the UFC just decided to give me another chance.
PB: How long ago did you get that call from the UFC?
JT: It was right after the finale. I was at the finale and I saw Dana and talked to him for a little bit. I saw Joe Silva there, too. I just gave both of them another apology. I saw them both at an after-party and we all talked again. That Monday, Dana called me and asked if I wanted to fight on the 19th and I said “hell yeah.” He said, “Alright! Get in shape!” So later on, Joe Silva called me specifically about the date. They didn’t have an opponent yet, but yeah… that’s pretty much how it went.
PB: Did they mention C.B. at all in those conversations?
JT: Joe Silva still was trying to get in touch with him, but after he did, that’s when Joe told me it was a lock. At the time I didn’t even care. I know some may think that’s a bad mentality to have, but I just wanted to fight and didn’t care who my opponent was. I just wanted to get back to business.
PB: This is a pretty huge chance for you. What does that second chance mean to you?
JT: It means the world to me. I definitely want to be here for the long haul, so I need to get it together inside and outside of the cage to have a long career in the UFC. I want to stay here forever.
PB: Dana White’s been quoted as saying you entered an AA program since the show wrapped. What’s going on with that?
JT: I’ve been to a couple meetings here and there. I’m definitely not an alcoholic or anything like that. So I went to check it out to see what it’s all about.
PB: Do you think that whole issue was blown up over the course of the show? Do you think you have a problem, or are you just some twenty-something guy who likes to have a good time?
JT: It’s kind of just what you said, you know. I think it got blown up a bit. I think I got a little out of control at times, definitely. But the whole “Jesse being the drunk guy” thing is definitely not true.
PB: We all have our moments.
JT: Yeah, yeah! Everyone’s had them. It’s a horrible feeling, but I’m sure everyone’s been there. [Laughs] Mine was just on national T.V.!
PB: So tell me your thoughts about this match up with C.B..
JT: I don’t want to give out too much information on my game plan, but I’ve been working a lot of different areas, and I just feel like I’m ready for wherever the fight goes. I’m ready to go hard for the whole fight. I feel very good about this fight.
PB: You and C.B. both have that wrestling label on you. As far as the wrestling aspect of the game goes, do you have him beat in that?
JT: I think in a straight wrestling match, who knows. He beat me in college wrestling, however I feel like my wrestling has gotten better. Plus, there’s a big big difference between wrestling for MMA and just straight up wrestling. I think in MMA wrestling I’m far superior. I think I showed that on the show. So yeah, straight wrestling, I don’t know. My MMA wrestling is way better than his is though.
PB: Have you had any sort of communication with the UFC about how many fights you’re signed for? How’s that going to work out?
JT: I believe I’m under the same contract as all of the guys that do well on the show and they bring back. I think it’s a 3-year straight contract, and they just go with you until they don’t want you or you stop performing, and you’ll be released.
PB: Tell me your thoughts on the Rampage vs. Forrest fight.
JT: I think it was a good decision, personally. Not even because Forrest was my coach or anything. I think Forrest was more active, and Rampage just seemed much more tired than Forrest.
PB: Rampage was very quick to concede to Forrest on the broadcast, but apparently after, he was apparently saying that he thought he should have won. Do you think that’s legit, or he’s just hyping a rematch?
JT: I think that it was definitely a good enough fight for a rematch. It’s hard… I think maybe both. They pretty much got along on the show though, so it’s hard to gauge.
PB: I definitely appreciate you taking some time out. I wish you luck in your second chance in the UFC, and in your fight on Saturday.
JT: Thanks a lot! Cool man, have a good one.