Jesse Taylor is responsible for several firsts in Ultimate Fighter history. He’s the first fighter to voluntarily pee his pants for entertainment on the show, as well as the first to fight his way into the finals only to be kicked off for a drunken rampage after the show finished filming.
Now Taylor’s poised to get his shot in the UFC against CB Dollaway on July 19th. In this exclusive interview he talks to CagePotato about finally getting his shot at the big time and trying to learn from his mistakes to make the most of his second chance.
CagePotato.com: When did you find out that you were going to get a shot in the UFC on this July 19 card? Where you already in shape and ready for a fight, or did it come as a surprise to you?
Jesse Taylor: I was just staying active, and you have to remember the show ended back in March, so after training so long and fighting so much it was a big layoff. Ever since it ended I was trying to get back in, but I found out just recently, just about three and a half weeks ago that I was back in. I was just so pumped up, so happy that I felt like sure, let’s go, I’ll fight anybody.
Do you think it was the UFC’s need to put this card together on short notice that made them call you so soon?
I think it was a combination of things. I think that show definitely helped. But I had this spotlight on me anyway because I was the guy who won every one of his fights and then I got this horrible punishment. I definitely wanted the fight, and I think people were interested in, you know, what could have happened with Jesse Taylor, so next thing I know I’m back in the UFC.
Do you think they would have called you so soon if it wasn’t for this event?
I think they would have definitely called me again, I just think it would have been a little bit longer.
Looking back on it now, what do you make of the punishment Dana White handed down to you? Was it too harsh, in your opinion?
You know, I feel mixed about it. I know Dana had to do something. I think there could possibly have been something else he could have done, but it was horrible that I lost out on the contract. The only positive thing that came out of it was the exposure. It still was a pretty harsh punishment.
What was it like going home and waiting for the show to air and knowing how it was going to turn out in the end? How did you handle that with friends and family who were excited for you and watching the show each week?
I couldn’t say anything at first. The few people I did tell were family and very close friends. They understood it was a tough thing. And the other people, they knew I went away and then came back but I couldn’t say anything about what happened. It was a really hard and confusing situation. It really sucked. They could tell that there was a difference in my mood, but we couldn’t talk about it. It was just a tough situation.
What do you think you learned from that situation? Do you feel like you’re different now because of it?
The number one thing was I got my priorities straight. I got myself together. I’m twenty-five years old, and while I’m still a young guy, I’m not a wild teenager running around anymore and I can’t be doing the same shit I used to do.
I had a golden opportunity, a golden ticket, and I think I could have beat both those guys and won a lot of money, and I messed it all up. It made me realize what it meant to be a professional inside the cage and out.
Given your situation with the UFC, is this fight with CB Dollaway a must-win for you?
Every fight’s a must-win fight, but this one definitely is important. It’s a great fight, a great way to break into the UFC. It’s a test for me and I’m eager for this fight.
What do you think of Dollaway as a fighter? He got a lot of hype on the show, but do you think it was justified?
Well, CB’s definitely a tough guy, I don’t want to take anything away from him, but I think he had a little too much hype going into it. I don’t know why that is, if it was because he talked a lot or his coaches talked a lot about him, but you know he had skills, but a lot of the guys on the show, or at least a few of them, had skills. So I think he got a lot of hype and being the competitive guy I am I always wanted that fight so I could show myself and the world that I’m capable of beating him.
Dana White said that a lot of guys are embarrassed of things they did on the show. You were shown peeing your pants on purpose a couple of times. Is that something you wish you hadn’t done now?
Yeah, you regret some things, definitely. Like anything, you learn your lessons in life. It’s a TV show, so anything you do they want to play it up. I was locked up in a house with a bunch of guys, just training and fighting, and I’m a fun guy so I wanted to entertain myself. I don’t know why I decided to piss my pants, but I decided to. I don’t really regret anything, though.
You’ve talked a lot about this being a new beginning for you. What’s the difference between Jesse Taylor now and Jesse Taylor before the show?
Since I started fighting I got blessed with a very good camp, Team Quest, but before the show I definitely wasn’t training the way I’m training now. Before the show I had a great camp, I had world class fighters to train with, but I was doing it more just here and there and was relying on genetics and other tools I had.
I had done that before with wrestling and other stuff in my life, but going to the show was awesome because I realized, wow, I could actually be pretty good. After the show my training was even more intense because I realized this is my career. I really upped the intensity of my training sessions and I’ve been getting my ass kicked by some of the best guys in the world, so I’m just working on getting better.
Do you think that people will always remember you as the guy who got kicked off “The Ultimate Fighter”? Is that a label you think you’ll have to work to get rid of?
Well, hopefully people don’t think that. I’ve seen it where, yeah, some people do think of me that way, but hopefully not most of them. Of course, that’s why this fight is awesome for me, because after it people will remember me for my fighting, not as the guy who got kicked off the show.
Thanks, Jesse. Anything else you want to add?
I just want to tell people that this is the beginning for me and I can’t wait for this fight. Thanks to the people that supported me and thanks to the people who are against me because it’s all motivating. I just want to give a quick plug for my website, www.yojtmoney.com.