Chris Fishgold (18-2-1), won his first UFC bout at the second attempt in Prague last Saturday.
The Liverpudlian, well-known for his expert work in the grapple and on the ground, endured a frantic opening round against Daniel Teymur, but, after taking his opponent down early in the second, it wasn’t long before the 26-year-old had the rear naked choke locked in for the win.
Fishgold rebounded after falling to defeat on his UFC debut to ranked 15th featherweight Calvin Kutter, but he admirably learned from that loss to gain his first win in the Czech Republic.
talkSPORT spoke to the featherweight following his big win and got to know one of the UK’s brightest prospects in the UFC a little better.
On what he learned from the Kutter loss to help defeat Teymur
“I think in this sport you need to learn with every fight, if you’re not going to learn you’re not going to win – it’s that simple. People evolve so quick, they can watch your previous fights and pick your weaknesses from that, so you need to get better with every fight. I dropped my hands in the other fight [Kutter] and I was a lot more wild. I felt like I dominated the stand-up right until I got caught. At this level, they’re very experienced strikers and it only takes one shot – same with Teymur too – so I knew I wasn’t going to let that happen again and take it to the mat straight away.
“That was my first fight as a black belt [versus Teymur], I received my black belt over Christmas from my longtime coach Paul River. You always want to go out and show people what your Ju-Jitsu is like, but yeah, I do want people to know I can strike because I’ve been known as a grappler for so long and I want people to know that if I can’t get you down, I am happy to stand and trade with you. I have got knockout power and I do think you’re going to see that the more I fight – I’m going to keep people guessing whether I’m going to take them to the ground or keep it standing.”
How did it feel to get his first win in UFC?
“Words can’t describe it really. The best night of my life so far – amazing.”
On his and UFC’s plans following the win
“I haven’t really spoke to anyone since I got back [from Prague]. I just want to be as active as possible, my face is out there now, people are still talking about the fight. I wanna keep it on a roll and have another fight booked as soon as.”
UFC London on March 16, predictions and missing out on that card
I think it’s a really good card and yeah, I would have liked to have been on it – who doesn’t want to fight in front of their home country in the capital city! – nevertheless, I’m still grateful for the opportunities the UFC have given me. I’m getting paid to travel and fight people, do you know what I mean? How good is that?!
“Yeah… do you know what, I’ll keep my predictions to myself! Just because I’ve got teammates fighting on that card and I don’t want to jinx them! [laughs]”
Wanting to fight Jose Aldo eventually
“I wanna fight, eventually, the likes of Jose Aldo, the likes of Chad Mendes and people like that. People who have been around for years and have made a big name. People that I grew up on watching; they were my idols looking up to them.
“So just being able to say I got in there with someone that I grew up watching who inspired me to get into the sport, one of my idols, one of my role models – that would be pretty cool to tell your grandkids when you’re an old man, wouldn’t it?”
How did he get into MMA?
I was still going to school and somebody showed me showed me a fight and it was Tito Ortiz. And I’d never seen MMA before. This is when I was 14, so you’re looking at 12,13 years ago and I was like, “Woah, what’s that? He’s punching him on the ground, that can’t be real.” And that was the first time that I’d ever actually seen the UFC.
I said there and then that’s what I wanted to do when I was older. I never did nothing [about it] for two years and then I went to my first Muay Thai boxing class after my mate asked me if I wanted to come along after school. So I went along and stayed for a Ju-Jitsu class with Paul [River] and I remember getting choked out by someone half my size and I said ‘this is what I need to be doing’.
“It was a progression from there really. Every night soon turned to twice a day morning and night. I had my first semi-pro fight back then, I won that and thought ‘this is alright’. I won my second one and I thought ‘I might be able to do this as a career’. Paul always kept a vision of where I was going and what I was capable of and I never believed him at first but I sure do now.”
What he would do if he wasn’t signed by UFC
“I said I wanted to be signed by the time I was 26 and if I wasn’t I’d re-adjust my life. Luckily I got signed just before my 26th birthday so, happy man. I was actually looking at jobs in the army. I’m a fighter so I think you always want that competition, that challenge and adrenaline.”
Message to MMA fans and fighters alike in the UK
“I wanna shoutout to everybody at Next Generation in Liverpool. Anybody looking to get into the sport, just come down and get involved. You’re never too old to actually get somewhere with it and anything is possible if you keep focused.”
Fishgold has that humble, affable character that is extremely easy for fans to get behind. The more fights the former Cage Warriors featherweight champion gets under his belt, the louder the noise around this undeniable talent is going to get.
The UFC comes to London on March 16 where Fishgold’s fellow Liverpudlian Daren Till will face off against Jorge Masvidal in the main event at the O2 Arena.