For a time, Chris Fishgold felt like the call from the UFC would never come. Then, defeat reignited his passion for MMA, and as his second fight in the promotion approaches, he truly believes he can beat anyone.
Chris Fishgold made his promotional debut at UFC Moncton last October. Taking on Calvin Kattar, the English featherweight found success early, but shortly before the end of the opening round, wound up on the wrong end of a TKO loss. In short, he got caught. Now, he’ll look for a second chance at a first impression much closer to home, at UFC Prague.
Looking back at his debut in Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada, Fishgold told Cageside Press that time off might have played a factor that night. “To be honest, that was my first fight in a year, and the time I fought before that, exactly a year before that.” Moncton “was my second fight in two years. So I think I had some ring rust.”
Factor in that, and the experience of fighting in the UFC for the first time. Fishgold didn’t quite call it octagon jitters, but pointed out that “I’m fighting in the UFC. This has been a big, big dream for me since I was a young child. So I started walking out, the Canadian fans are great, and you hear them all screaming, it really pumped me up. By the time I got in there, obviously I’m a black belt on the ground, I knew if I wanted to keep it there, I could.”
That game plan, however, went out the window as the crowd lit a fire under him. “It’s an entertainment business, you’re always aware as much as people want to watch you, people want to see blood, and they want to see you go into war. So the minute I got in there, I thought, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Fishgold had no delusions. He knew Kattar was a top twenty guy. “I think he was still ranked 17th in the world on Tapology.” Yet instead of being patient, “I just wanted to take his head off for the fans to please the crowd. And I feel like I was doing that right until I got caught.”
Pretty much. “You live and learn, I think from now on I know what to expect, I know the crowd,” Fishgold told us. Now that he’s had that experience, “you’ll see a more composed Fishgold, you’ll see what you seen in the first, but a little more patient.”
It was about being a fighter, going out winning fights and entertaining. The love of the chaos and the love of the sport.”
Despite the loss, Fishgold had arrived. He’d made the UFC. It was something many expected years earlier, when he was a 10-0 prospect. “Totally,” he said when asked if he ever felt the call might not come. “I was 10-0, I’d just turned 21 years of age. I thought if it was going to come, it was going to come then. I’d seen UFC events come and go in the UK. It got my hopes down. I had two years, two and a half years off where I never fought, because I literally just couldn’t be bothered. It was like, ‘why am I even doing this?'”
Then he went to Asia (Taiwan, to be exact), and lost. It was the first loss of his career. The ten fight win streak was over. Yet rather than demotivating him, it reignited his passion.
“It wasn’t just about getting to the UFC. It was about being a fighter, going out winning fights and entertaining,” he said of his newfound enthusiasm for MMA back then. “The love of the chaos and the love of the sport.”
That was what Fishgold was chasing. He got things back on track. He put together another big win streak. Following the loss in Taiwan, there was a draw, then seven straight victories.
Then, UFC Liverpool was announced. “About that time, I was 17-1-1, I’d lost once, that was two years [prior], a controversial decision.” The feeling Fishgold had was the same he’d felt back when he was 10-0 at 21 years old, like “this was never going to happen.”
Luckily, “to my relief and to my pleasure, they signed me the day before the Liverpool show.”
Timing is everything. “I think everything happens for a reason,” said Chris Fishgold. “I think if I would have got signed at 21, I wouldn’t be there now. I was still maturing. I’m not saying I was immature back then, but I was still maturing, and I don’t think I would have valued the opportunity as much as I value it now.”
And here he is, fighting in the UFC. Not at home yet, mind you. “I asked for the London card. To be honest, for me, I’ll fight any time, any place. I’m not just saying that.” So when Prague came up, he took it. After all, Prague is closer than Moncton.
As to why he keeps that “fight anywhere” attitude, “it’s business at the end of the day. I love the sport, and I think it’s a gentleman’s sport. You need to try and be, maybe not a role model, but you need to be someone to look up to as much as possible. So I wanted to fight on the London card, but I’ll fight on any card, and they said there’s a space on the Prague one. So I took it.”
He does plan to “finish this fight nice and quick, and I’m going to keep my weight down. I’ll fight at any weight, last minute, whether it’s featherweight, lightweight, catchweight.” He’s still got an eye on UFC London, should a replacement be needed. “I’m going to let Sean Shelby know, if he ever needs somebody last minute, I’ll be ready, I’ll be the man to call if he needs somebody.”
Prague should be “a lot better on the body” then Moncton at least. “Closer to home,” especially after Fishgold missed a connecting flight in Germany on his way to Canada back in October. That turned a 16 hour journey into a 28 hour adventure.
And this time up, it’s Daniel Teymur rather than Calvin Kattar of course. “Kattar and Teymur, in my personal opinion, they’re levels apart,” said Fishgold. “No disrespect to Teymur, but you need to look at who Kattar’s beat and who he’s lost to, and who Teymur’s beat and who he’s lost to.”
He’s also aware his pending opponent has his back against the wall. “Let’s be honest, he’s 0-2 in the UFC,” admitted Fishgold. “If he loses this, there’s a good chance he could get cut.”
And so, “like any fight, I need to be prepared.” But more than just prepared, “I’m looking for the best Teymur that there is. I need to look at everything he does in his fights, and say ‘alright, he’s going to be a better version of that.'”
“If it goes past the first three minutes, he’s having a lucky night.”
“I do think he’s going to come out a lot better than he ever has before, or a lot harder,” Fishgold continued. “A lot better cardio. But at the same time, I’m prepared for that. There’s levels to the sport.”
Despite being caught in his last fight, Fishgold truly believes he can beat anyone, and Kattar isn’t far from his mind. “I’d love to fight Kattar again, and I’m sure somewhere down the line we will, but at this moment, Teymur’s the fight and there’s levels to this.” As for a prediction, “I am going to finish him within the first round, then I’ll move on to the next one.”
More specifically, he believes it will be “over in the first three minutes. If it goes past the first three minutes, he’s having a lucky night.”
While Fishgold is fighting at featherweight these days, he previously spent time at lightweight. Rather than considering a move up in the future, he suggested even bantamweight could be a possibility.
“To be honest, I do sprints for my fitness, but I don’t do long distance running.” He’s hitting featherweight by dieting and training like normal. “I think about, if I made the effort” and started his diet really south, “I think I could definitely make bantamweight.” That said, he feels his future is at 145. Plus, he’s happy with life at the moment, not killing himself every day.
Regardless of weight, however, Fishgold is hoping to fight four times this year, so three more after UFC Prague. “I’ve got ten years at my peak to make a legacy for myself and build as much money as possible,” he said. If all goes well in Prague, he’s hoping for that London card. If not, he wants another fight before his 27th birthday.
First up, Daniel Teymur. The pair face off at UFC Prague (UFC Fight Night 145) on Saturday, February 23. The card airs live on ESPN+, and TSN in Canada.