Jesse Taylor earned his redemption Friday by winning The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption. At the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, he came back from getting dropped by Dhiego Lima in the second round and immediately took his opponent’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke. The win earned him a UFC contract, over a quarter of a million dollars, and the title of TUF champion.
It also helped to eliminate the memory of being kicked off The Ultimate Fighter 7 in 2008. Back then, a young, drunken Taylor kicked out the window of a limousine after a night out in Vegas. An older, wiser Taylor, newly minted TUF 25 champ, spoke to the media after the event Friday.
Asked about how it all felt, Taylor saw the win as the closing of a chapter in his journey – but that journey is far from over. “It’s very hard to put into words, I was pretty excited in there, kind of settling down now a little bit. It’s a surreal experience” he said.
“Since the show, the first time around I had 47 fights, all over the world against no chumps, every single guy was some killer or other. It’s been a crazy long journey” he continued. “This was like the goal at the end. This chapter is closed, I want to make a run for it, I want to see how far I can take this ride.”
Now back in the UFC, it will be interesting to see where the thirty-four year old sits in the welterweight division. He has long been a staple of the regional MMA scene, putting in a lot of hard work outside the big show.
As for his win Friday, that brought him back to the promotion that once banished him, what were his thoughts on the win? “I did the strategy of taking a punch to the head, and he came on me, I created a scramble… I guess the punch in the head worked, cause he just jumped on me, and that’s kind of what I wanted. I knew I could out-scramble with him, from training with him on the show.”
“They say it’s an old trick, but I’m a rear-naked choke artist” he noted. Which is exactly how he finished the deal.
Along the way, were there ever thoughts that he might not set foot in the UFC again?
“I love to fight, I love to compete, I told myself if it takes me til I’m 60, I’m going to get back in the UFC.”
After jokingly comparing himself to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, Taylor also gave his thoughts on the welterweight division today. “I think there’s a lot of sharks at 170, but I also think it’s kinda lacking some star power, then I come out of nowhere and take it all.”
No doubt that is something JT Money fans will be looking forward to.