During the premiere episode of “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos” this past Wednesday night, one of Team Lesnar’s fighters, Myles Jury (9-0), suffered a knee injury during evaluations and was forced to pull out of the competition even before any fights got under way.
Ever prepared, the UFC had alternates ready and waiting in the event something of this nature were to happen. Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil (8-3) was the number one alternate they brought in to replace Jury.
ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) first interviewed O’Neil back in Feb. 2009. At the time, he was the Reality Fighting welterweight champion and was training with the Lauzon brothers in Bridgewater, Mass.
Although still in Massachusetts, O’Neil is no longer with Team Lauzon.
“Me and Lauzons had a break-up back in the beginning of August 2010,” he said. “I’d rather stay professional and not get into any details on the matter of that situation. What I can say is that I am now training along side my good friend and training partner Josh Grispi and the rest of Team Strong Guys at South Shore Sportfighting. I am also training with the best up at Team Sityodtong in Boston. Both are awesome camps and opened their doors to me and treat me like family. I couldn’t ask for any more.”
O’Neil explained how it all worked out with him being an alternate for the show and how he felt when he got the call letting him know Jury had been injured.
“I was originally flown out with one other guy as the top two alternates and we were put up in a separate hotel from all the other guys,” explained O’Neil. “After two days of being there they called us and said we’re headed home.”
“Back to Massachusetts I went on a food binge to hide my disappointment until one of the head producers calls to tell me I’m coming back. So I started flushing water and trying to get my weight back down, repacked my bags and barely made it out of Boston with a huge snow storm. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I feel for Myles but needed this opportunity!”
A lot of the fighters we see on The Ultimate Fighter tried out for multiple seasons before they were actually cast. This was not the case for O’Neil.
“I actually have never officially tried out for TUF before,” he said. “It was funny, all the guys in the house had all tried out a couple times before, made medicals or were alternates to other shows and this was my first time trying out just blindly going to the open casting call with a buddy of mine. It makes it all that much more gratifying in the end to know I accomplished my dream!”
Asked when he found out who the coaches would be if he had a preference which team he would be on, O’Neil admits Team Lesnar was not his first choice.
“I found out who the coaches were a week or two before the production of the show all started,” said O’Neil. “Not being in lock down I was able to see the video interviews done by both the coaches within the first couple days of production and saw how Brock was kinda stand offish and reserved. Kinda making things sound like he didn’t so much want to be there. That being said, I was definitely hoping to get onto Junior dos Santos’ team but I was clearly happy with my team after finding out I was with my good friends Charlie Rader and Clay Harvison.”
Knowing how important and the effect winning or even doing well on The Ultimate Fighter can be to a fighter’s career, O’Neil tried to learn what he could about the other cast members before he went.
“Well during the interview and medical process I tried to soak up as many names from the guys as possible,” he said. “I wrote them all down, went home and looked a lot of the potential competition up. I know it sounds crazy but I am very passionate about this sport and my career in it.”
There were a couple of things about the first episode that took O’Neil by surprise, and he gives a hint of at least one thing viewers can probably expect to see as the season unfolds.
“Well I obviously never saw team JDS work out and train so it was pretty interesting to see how they handled business during training sessions,” he said. “I was surprised they didn’t show much of the interaction between myself and the other team because it was probably all negative. Not saying I’m a jerk or anything I am just a very outgoing, loud and abrasive New England native. (laughs) But I’m sure as the episodes keep coming you will all see more of me and my ridiculousness!”
Finally, O’Neil talked about what it was like to get to know the coaches and gave his opinion on their upcoming June fight.
“At first I felt Brock really didn’t want to be there and that pretty much annoyed me,” said O’Neil. “I’m not a big fan of people trying to make me feel like I’m wasting their time and like I’m some piece of crap or something. But Brock really isn’t a bad guy, he will open up at times and is pretty funny. Junior dos Santos is the man! Awesome all around guy and even better fighter.”
“The fight between those two will be a classic striker vs. grappler match. Brock is a monster when the fight hits the ground but… if JDS hits you let’s be serious, you’re gonna hit the ground, so it should be very entertaining.”
Fight fans can keep up with Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil in the following ways:
- Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/pages/Chuck-Cold-Steel-ONeil/204939819518166)
- Twitter page (http://twitter.com/ChuckONeilMMA)
- Fans can also come out to Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil’s TUF 13 viewing parties every Wednesday night from 7-12 p.m. at The Greatest Bar in Boston, Mass. (www.TheGreatestBar.com – The Greatest Bar’s Facebook page)