The life of an MMA fighter is absolutely rough. For Charlie Ontiveros, the past two years have been dealing with injuries, PTSD from his UFC debut, and finally climbing out of a dark place
However, “The American Bad Boy” is finally ready to reintroduce himself to the UFC audience.
It hasn’t been the best UFC run so far for Texas fighter Ontiveros (11-8). In his UFC debut, he fought Kevin Holland on less than five days’ notice up a weight class. The fight ended in less than three minutes due to Ontiveros suffering a freak injury. In his second fight, after dropping his opponent Steve Garcia twice, he would end up losing in the second round.
But it was the Holland loss that has haunted the 31-year-old since it happened because it the injury in his neck lingered.
“I tore the muscle in the neck from the slam. They said the arm being right underneath the neck when I got slammed had something to do with it. I was already just having neck issues even before that,” Ontiveros told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview recently. “That fight, I kind of half-assed the physical therapy, you know, the bare minimum, and then I re-injured it again in my last fight with Garcia.”
Due to the seriousness of the injury, “I went in, got a new chiropractor, new specialist, and found out my neck was actually curving the opposite way of what it’s supposed to,” Ontiveros continued. “They were like ‘if we don’t start fixing it now, we’re going to need surgery.’ So I’m like, alright, well, let’s get on it, and yeah, dude, I went through like four months of physical therapy.”
On top of the reoccurring injuries that caused long layoffs, the slam caused Ontiveros PTSD.
“It was very depressing, and it doesn’t sit well with me. I wish I could fight more, but like, the injuries put me in a dark place for a little while. The UFC has their own mental coaches, and that’s been working tremendously too, like, life-changing,” Ontiveros revealed. “Like I went from borderline PTSD from the Holland fight because it’s like, I thought I was gonna be paralyzed. Like, for like 20 seconds, my whole life was changed. So going through that, that was tough. Made me almost want to quit fighting. I was really contemplating just hanging up the gloves.”
Now that Ontiveros can see the light at the end of the tunnel, he is ready to put on a show, especially because he finally gets to experience the real UFC crowd. Prior to this Saturday at UFC San Diego, Ontiveros has only fought at the UFC Apex with a limited crowd. To say he is excited is an understatement.
“I get to have a f*cking crowd! Like, being at the UFC Apex is cool, but you can pretty much hear your own f*cking thoughts. It is not cool,” Ontiveros said. “Like in the walkout, you’re just like, Oh, hi. Oh, hey, there’s another person. But I’m going to have a f*cking crowd. I get to feel for their energy; it’s f*cking differently…I don’t even care if it’s f*cking booing. I just want to f*cking hear something.”
Ontiveros faces Gabriel Benítez at UFC San Diego in what could be a candidate for Fight of the Night. Both men love to come forward and throw caution to the wind, but Ontiveros believes his opponent is going to turn into a wrestler at some point.
“It would be cool if we have a stand-up war, but in the back of my head, I know they’re going to try and take me down,” Ontiveros said. “If he’s gonna try his wrestling, then we could probably have a three-round fight, but if he’s gonna stand there, I don’t think it’s going out of the first round, and it’s no disrespect to him.”
“The American Bad Ass” is just excited to perform in a healthy mindset and with a much healthier neck.
Watch the rest of our interview with UFC San Diego’s Charlie Ontiveros above.