Best known to most people as the only fighter to be kicked off The Ultimate Fighter after the show was finished taping, Jesse Taylor is looking to change his image. Taylor, who made it to the finals of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter after defeating close friend, Tim Credeur, in the semi-finals. Following the victory, Taylor decided to stay in Vegas and go out to celebrate. It was a simple decision that carried extreme consequences, as Taylor got drunk and kicked out the window of the limousine that was driving him around. If that wasn’t enough, Taylor went into a Station Casino hotel, which is owned by UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, and caused quite a commotion. He was screaming at some female employees and security guards that he was a UFC fighter, and with that he was kicked off the show’s live finale by Dana White.
After getting his life in order Taylor was given a second chance and an opportunity against housemate C.B. Dollaway on UFC: Silva vs. Irvin which aired live on Spike TV in July of 2008. Taylor was submitted with an unusual move called the Peruvian necktie, and coupled with some remarks he had made about Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and the issues he was having, the UFC quickly released him from his contract. The UFC also believed he was not living up to his end of the bargain, which was to seek help with his drinking by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Now here we are, almost two years later and Taylor is getting ready for what might be his biggest fight as he goes up against King of Champions middleweight title holder, Chris Camozzi, this Saturday night from Denver, Colorado. Taylor has been keeping active and has won three straight bouts since his loss to Dollaway, all of them as a welterweight. Although he is fighting on smaller cards in front of less fans, Taylor could not be happier as he is keeping busy and looking to improve each and every time out.
In this exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com, Taylor discussed whether or not he has a drinking problem, what he thinks about Dana White, the UFC, The Ultimate Fighter and controversial lightweight fighter, and season 7 graduate of The Ultimate Fighter, Junie Browning. He was very candid and honest in what he hopes to attain in the future and what he has learned from his past.
Bryan Levick: How is everything going for you right now?
Jesse Taylor: Going good, I am in the middle of a training camp right now.
Bryan Levick: When and where is your next fight?
Jesse Taylor: My next fight will be in Colorado in the Denver area this Saturday night March 28th against King of Champions middleweight title holder Chris Camozzi.
Bryan Levick: Have you ever fought in Colorado before?
Jesse Taylor: No, I haven’t. I did wrestle there while I was in college a long time ago, but I have never fought an MMA match there.
Bryan Levick: Are you training any differently to get accustomed to the thin air or is that something that doesn’t worry you?
Jesse Taylor: I am not doing anything different, and being that I have been so active lately, I don’t anticipate my cardio being a factor. I am sure I will feel it a little bit, but I believe I am in real good shape and the thin air shouldn’t hinder my performance.
Bryan Levick: Besides training can you tell me what else you have been up to?
Jesse Taylor: I have been fighting every month lately and trying to stay in shape. My goal is to keep on winning and furthering my career.
Bryan Levick: Obviously you are best known from your stint on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, and what took place after the show had stopped taping. Most of your issues on the show were fueled by alcohol. Do you feel as though you are an alcoholic or have a problem controlling your drinking?
Jesse Taylor: I don’t feel like I had a problem. I feel as though I did get out of hand. It was difficult dealing with the notoriety and I don’t think I was ready for the bright lights. I do feel as though everything that happened was a good lesson for me and I am where I am today because of the valuable lessons I learned. I am still here fighting and I am happy I went through what I went through and I feel as though I have a lot to prove to myself, and the world of MMA in general.
Bryan Levick: Would you say it was more like growing pains and maybe being off on your own for the first time?
Jesse Taylor: Absolutely, just dealing with the fact that I was on national TV. Fighting wise I feel as though I was ready, but mentally I was not.
Bryan Levick: At this point in your life would it be safe to say that you can go out and enjoy a few drinks without be fearful that you will lose control again.
Jesse Taylor: Yes, I would say that drinking for me is not going to be an issue.
Bryan Levick: What were some of the stipulations set forth by the UFC after the incident at the hotel when you kicked out the window of the limousine and caused a disturbance with some employees?
Jesse Taylor: Back then Dana White said get your shit together and you will be allowed to come back. I had to go and do it on my own.
Bryan Levick: So the UFC didn’t offer you any help or set you in the right direction?
Jesse Taylor: No, they did not. I got myself in trouble and it was my job to clean myself up. It would have been nice if they would have offered some assistance, but that wasn’t the case so I made the best of it. I pretty much took matters into my own hands and I am doing very well now.
Bryan Levick: What are your thoughts on Dana White whether it be personally or professionally?
Jesse Taylor: He’s a business man first and foremost and he runs a tight ship over there. To run a successful business you have to be like that. He was a hard ass at times and I have no problems with him and I would love to fight for him again when the time is right. He has a business to run and some of the stuff he does seems a little strict but to get to where he has gotten to you have to be like that.
Bryan Levick: Did you watch any of last season’s episodes?
Jesse Taylor: I caught a few of them.
Bryan Levick: Do you feel as though Dana set forth a double standard when it came to Junie Browning?
Jesse Taylor: It got me frustrated because I feel as though what he was doing was a lot worse than anything that I did but it was obvious why they kept him on the show. He was out of control from the beginning of the show and people were tuning in to see what he would do next while what I did happened at the end of the season so there was no reason for them to keep me around. I feel as though Junie should never have been kept around but it’s all about ratings. I guarantee when he suffers his first loss he will be out of the UFC if not his first then for sure with his second loss. I think he did a lot of what he did for attention and it worked.
Bryan Levick: What was it like living in the house? When the camera wasn’t on you, what did you do to keep yourself busy?
Jesse Taylor: Actually, being in the house created a really good environment fighting wise because there were no distractions all you did was fight and train. It’s hard because you can’t go and do anything but it was good for someone like me who wanted to concentrate on making themselves a better fighter.
Bryan Levick: Did you develop any relationships that you maintain today with any of the fighters you were in the house with?
Jesse Taylor: Not really, everyone says they will keep in touch but when it’s all said and done everyone winds up doing their own thing.
Bryan Levick: Do you feel as though it is wrong of the UFC to supply the fighters with the amount of alcohol that they put in the house?
Jesse Taylor: I guess, but you have to remember they are doing whatever it takes to make good television. They don’t force you to drink it is an option but is a huge temptation and they know if we drink that something interesting is going to happen.
Bryan Levick: After your loss to Dolloway was there any discussion with the management of the UFC about eventually coming back and fighting for them again?
Jesse Taylor: Yes, they told me to go and rack up some quality wins and that they would keep their eye on me. The main thing is to keep winning. If I am successful things will take care of themselves.
Bryan Levick: You have been headlining a lot of regional shows lately are you happy with where you are at this point in time?
Jesse Taylor: I am happy doing it of course I would like to fight for one of the bigger promotions, but the best thing about what I am doing now is I am getting a lot of experience and staying active. If I was fighting for the UFC I could be only fighting every three or four months. I have seen guys sit out longer that, so while fighting for the UFC would be awesome, I am able to keep busy by fighting for the smaller promotions right now. I am always training and I keep getting better so when I do go back I will be a much better fighter than I was when I was there last.
Bryan Levick: What would you say your long term goals are?
Jesse Taylor: My long term goal is to be a champion to be the best in the world. Another main goal is to get into a bigger organization and get my hands on a championship belt.
Bryan Levick: Do you have any desire to fight C.B. Dolloway and avenge that loss to him?
Jesse Taylor: Without a doubt I have three losses on my record and I use them as motivation to make myself a better fighter. The loss to him eats away at me I hate thinking about it and it really drives me to train. I can’t sleep sometimes thinking about it and while I am not going to say I am happy with it, that loss really helped me become a better fighter.
Bryan Levick: Have you had any negotiations with Strikeforce, Affliction or any of the organizations in Japan?
Jesse Taylor: Yes, they have all come up and I would be more than happy to fight for any of them. A few of the guys I train with at Team Quest are fighting for Strikeforce, so that is definitely an option. I just want to fight the best fighters in the world and make some money. You know the old saying, show me the money.
Bryan Levick: What do you know about your opponent Chris Camozzi?
Jesse Taylor: I don’t know much about him. I like to let my trainers and coaches guide me in the right of direction. I don’t like stressing over it too much. What I have heard is that he is a pretty good striker and he has pretty decent all around skills. I feel as though it is a pretty good fight for me and I am happy that he is a tough opponent. He has some decent wins under his belt so that will make the victory that much better for me.
Bryan Levick: This fight is for the King of Champions middleweight title but you have been fighting recently at 170lbs. Do you have plans to stick to one weight class or will you jump back and forth between the two?
Jesse Taylor: I am going to fight wherever the best fights are. Fighting at different weights create a lot more opportunities for me. There are negatives and positives for both when I fight at 170 I will be a little bit bigger and stronger than most guys, but 185 is my natural weight class and I feel good all the time. I am not grouchy or anything from the weight cut. I can lift weights and right now I feel really good stronger than ever. I like both weight classes.
Bryan Levick: How did it feel when you defeated Drew Fickett back in October of last year?
Jesse Taylor: Actually, I didn’t feel as though I was fighting the best Drew Fickett. I could tell he was off and it was a good fight for me. I am not taking any credit away from myself but that wasn’t the same Drew Fickett that everyone had become accustomed to. I still feel as though I could beat the old Drew Fickett, and I felt really confident going into that fight, but he wasn’t at his best. Since that fight he has kind of gone downhill. I wish I could have fought the old Drew Fickett, it would have been more satisfying.
Bryan Levick: Do you have any fights scheduled after your fight this Saturday?
Jesse Taylor: We are actually working on a May date in Atlantic City with I believe Ring of Combat. I am not 100% sure. I am looking forward to fighting as soon as often as possible.
Bryan Levick: Jesse, I would like to thank you for your time. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Jesse Taylor: I want to thank my teammates at Team Quest. I would also like to everyone who has stuck behind me and I promise them that I will be at my best. For anyone looking to keep up with what I am doing you can check out my website at www.yojtmoney.com. I update my fans on a regular basis on the site.