Jesse Taylor just might be the most entertaining guy to ever come out of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) house. I mean, he did pee his swim trunks on national television. And who else can do better tricks on command like Coco the Monkey? Amir Sadollah? Pshaw!
But in all seriousness, when Jesse Taylor went and got himself kicked off of the Finale for violating the UFC’s conduct policy, no one was laughing. Well, at least Jesse Taylor wasn’t.
Now that he’s "served his time" and been invited back into the thick of things, Taylor has a unique opportunity to not only prove he belongs in the big leagues, but also to fight the one man who benefitted the most from his dismissal: CB Dollaway. Dollaway beat Tim Creduer to claim Taylor’s vacated spot in the Finale against Amir.
And the rest, as they say, is history
Taylor and Dollaway square off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 14: "Silva vs. Irvin," one week from tomorrow at The Pearl in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fights start at 9:00 p.m. ET and will go head-to-head with the Affliction pay-per-view.
We caught up with Taylor to congratulate him on his return, find out his thoughts on his upcoming fight with Dollaway, and gauge his interest in a possible dream matchup with Amir Sadollah at some point down the road to find out who really deserves to be called The Ultimate Fighter.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): First, let me say congratulations on getting the nod from the UFC that you’re back in. That’s great news.
Jesse Taylor: Thank you.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): When were you contacted by them letting you know that they wanted you back in?
Jesse Taylor: I talked with Dana at the (TUF 7) Finale fight, I was there. And then on Monday after those fights, they pretty much contacted me and told me I’m in, they were just looking for (an opponent for me). About three weeks ago.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Since getting bounced for violating the UFC’s conduct policy, this is clearly your chance at redemption and to prove that you truly belong in the largest MMA promotion in the world. What went through your mind when you were told of this opportunity?
Jesse Taylor: I was really pumped to be back in the UFC for the chance to prove myself — what kind of fighter I am in and out of the cage. I think it’s a great chance to be back, and this is just the beginning. It’s time for me to establish myself. I’m very pumped up for the fight. I’m very happy about it.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Did you sign a multi-fight deal?
Jesse Taylor: I believe it’s the same contract that the other guys on the show are under. It’s a three-year kind of a deal, where they can release you if you’re not performing.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Let’s talk about the TUF 7 Finale. How difficult was it to watch from the sidelines, knowing that you had earned that spot in the Finale?
Jesse Taylor: Yeah, it was very tough, especially knowing that I matched up well with both of them. But I definitely think if I was in that Finale fight I would have won. All props to Amir for pulling that off and being the underdog and upsetting everyone (in the competition), but I just think that that would have been a very good fight for me and my style. It was my fight, and it was very hard to watch.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): When Amir sunk in the armbar, did you think that CB Dollaway committed to the tap?
Jesse Taylor: Yeah, he tapped. He definitely tapped. They showed the replay, and he tapped.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): He seemed to have protested it a bit.
Jesse Taylor: Yeah, I think after realizing it, he probably knew. He definitely tapped. He was probably just shocked himself that it happened. (Laughs)
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Clearly, the person who benefited the most from your dismissal from the show was CB Dollaway. Is your upcoming fight with him a bit of payback?
Jesse Taylor: No, I actually got along with the guy, I wouldn’t say that. The only thing that really got to me was how everyone would just talk about him on the show. You know, how overhyped he was. I mean, yes, I’m not going to underestimate anyone, but I just think there was a little too much hype about the guy, which he never deserved. But definitely, there was a lot of overhype about the guy, and I’m a competitive guy, and I thought I was the best. That’s the only reason why I want to fight him.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Well you’ll have the opportunity two Saturdays from now. Both of you guys are decorated wrestlers to say the least. You’re a two-time Junior College All-American wrestler. CB is a high school state champion, a junior college national champion and a 2005 All-American from ASU. Do you see your upcoming fight as who has the better wrestling, or do you think it will be more of a stand-up fight?
[Editor’s note: Jesse Taylor and CB Dollaway reportedly wrestled twice during their amateur days, with Dollaway getting the best of Taylor in both matches.]
Jesse Taylor: Well I’ve been wrestling and fighting — and wrestling definitely helps, but they’re two entirely different things, especially MMA wrestling. There’s a big difference in how you use that in your fighting.
But I see it as yeah, there’s definitely going to be some stand-up involved. But I know that for both of us, if the takedown is open, we’ll probably take it. Seems to me that once CB gets hit, he’s going to start wrestling again. I think it’ll be a good fight for me. I can use this to my advantage.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Are you training with Team Quest for this fight?
Jesse Taylor: Yes, I’ve always been with Team Quest since I started training, and I’m still with Team Quest.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): About how much time in your training is dedicated to the three major components of MMA — striking, jiu-jitsu and wrestling?
Jesse Taylor: Oh, I do all of it everyday. We do it all. Especially for this fight — it’s six, sometimes seven days a week. We do MMA, and sometimes we do big gloves, and we do kickboxing. We’ll break it up. Sometimes we’ll do morning, a little bit of technique and either a little bit of drilling on kickboxing, or wrestling with jiu-jitsu. And that night, it’s a live spar in either MMA or kickboxing.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Knowing what you know of CB, do you have any particular strategy for how you plan to fight him?
Jesse Taylor: I definitely do, but I don’t think I should disclose it yet.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): (Laughs) That’s fine. I didn’t think you would, but I thought I’d ask you anyway.
Jesse Taylor: (Laughs) There’s definitely some strategy we’ve been going over. But it’ll be seen when we fight.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Now that you’ve earned your spot with the UFC, what are your future goals in the organization? Do you see a fight with Amir somewhere on the horizon?
Jesse Taylor: You know, I really like Amir, but I think the fans deserve to see that fight, especially if everything goes as planned and I do well with this fight, which I believe I will. But I just have to keep on keeping on. Whoever they throw in front of me, I’ll fight. I think this is just the beginning of a long career for me.
But yeah, I think the fans do deserve that, to see who is really The … I mean, I give props, Amir was The Ultimate Fighter champ. But would Jesse Taylor have won it if I was allowed to fight? So I think after this fight, hopefully they will allow me to fight Amir.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Yeah, I think it has a huge potential for a highly marketable fight.
Jesse Taylor: Yeah, I think it’s marketable, I think people wanna see it. I want to prove it to myself too, and the fans. I think it will be cool.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Dana White was quoted as saying something about how he now has the challenge of trying to create a star (laughs) out of a kid who peed his pants (laughs) on national television (laughing very hard).
Jesse Taylor: (Laughs)
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So I was thinking you could embrace this by working it into your entrance. Have you ever thought about peeing your pants (laughing almost to the point I cannot complete the question) right before a fight when Bruce Buffer announces your name?
Jesse Taylor: (Laughing) Yeah, that might be a little too much if I peed on myself. That would be a little over the top, definitely.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Well you were great on the show. You definitely made the show very entertaining, and I think you’ll do well in the UFC. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Do you have any sponsors that you’d like to thank, or do you have any parting words for your fans?
Jesse Taylor: Yeah, that’d be great. Parting words: This is only the beginning, and I promise a long career that’s fun and exciting inside the cage, just as I am outside the cage.