Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil (15-7) will make his official move up to middleweight on Oct. 30 when he faces Daniel Vizcaya (8-3) at Classic Entertainment and Sports‘s CES MMA 31 from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.
For those who may have forgot, O’Neil was on the thirteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter back in 2011, when it was still pretty good. O’Neil was part of Brock Lesnar’s team opposite Team Junior Dos Santos. He won his preliminary and quarterfinal rounds, but lost in the semifinals to eventual winner, Tony Ferguson.
Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter Chuck has put together an impressive run (7-3) and was the CES MMA welterweight champion until Dominique Steele (13-6) snapped a four-fight winning streak and took the title from him back in June. Steele signed with the UFC after that fight.
PMN caught up with O’Neil this week to talk about his upcoming fight, what happened against Dominique Steele and how it convinced him he needed to move to 185-pounds. O’Neil also fills us in on his agreement with CES not to do any pro wrestling when in camp and we talk a little WWE.
PMN: Hi Chuck, what’s going on my friend? You have an upcoming fight with Daniel Vizcaya on Oct. 30, are you gonna give this guy a trick or a treat?
Chuck: I’m not going to give him either; there aren’t any gimmicks in my fight game (laughs). I’m going to go out there and end the fight. That’s what I’m going to do.
PMN: I just realized I saw Vizcaya’s pro debut in Nashville in 2010, I remember it because he out-struck a BJJ coach friend of mine who took the bout on late notice and is not an MMA fighter. … He’s put together an 8-3 record with half his wins coming by submission. What’s your take on him?
Chuck: I think Daniel is a grinder. I think he’s got a style that’s really similar to Dom Steele’s. He’s a counter-striker, but I’m not going to let him counter me. He’s coming into this fight, probably thinking that he’s going to be the bigger, stronger guy. But he’s going to realize soon that’s not the case. I’m going to go out there and feel excellent and really be able to push the pace throughout the fight.
PMN: I understand you had some weight-cutting issues with your last fight, and this move to middleweight has kind of been a long time coming, but what’s your thoughts overall on the Dominique Steele fight when you look back?
Chuck: It felt like an out-of-body experience. It felt like I was there, but it felt like sleep paralysis, where you can’t move your body. I would tell my body to do something, but I just couldn’t do it. To be able to go five five-minute rounds and not be carried out, is a win. I was completely exhausted. Even on my worst night ever, I was able to push through five five-minute rounds. It wasn’t pretty. I fought like crap. But it was definitely an eye-opening experience where I realized that, if I wanted to keep on fighting, it would have to be up at 185.
PMN: Do you think you underestimated him at all?
Chuck: No, not at all. I thought Dom was a very game opponent and I knew he was going to come in there to try to grind me out. I just couldn’t do what I wanted to do. He was a better man that night and got the decision.
PMN: Do you see a rematch with you and Dom Steele down the road somewhere?
Chuck: Well, Dom is currently under contract with the UFC and fights at 170 pounds, so unless he moves up to 185 and we’re both in the UFC, I doubt we’re going to see a rematch.
PMN: How much better is life going to be at middleweight?
Chuck: So much better. There were so many times going into that last fight where I wondered, “What the hell am I doing? Why the hell am I doing this?” I was borderline depressed. I was miserable. But I’m one of those guys who shuts up and gets things done, so I kept my nose to the grind and did it. Now it’s a lot more fun. I’m enjoying camp and I’m feeling good. I feel great, actually. It’s awesome.
PMN: Okay, talk to me about some of the current WWE storylines, what are you hyped on right now and what’s gonna happen at Hell in a Cell?
Chuck: Some of the best storylines are all down in NXT. The main roster stuff, in my opinion, isn’t as entertaining or interesting as what’s going on with NXT. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker is fun and something I’m kind of interested in, even though Undertaker can’t really work like he used to. But there’s nothing to really write home about. Not until they get me on their main roster (laughs).
PMN: I understand you made an agreement with CES to not do any more pro wrestling when you’re training for a fight?
Chuck: Everyone keeps asking me about that (laughs), but they just want to make sure I’m safe and healthy. At the end of the day, they put a lot of time and money into marketing my fights and they want to make sure I’m safe. Ultimately, sparring is a lot more dangerous than doing professional wrestling when you’re working safely with other professionals. But I understand where they’re coming from. We both know where we’re coming from and they know I’m not trying to be disrespectful with it. We’ve got a good understanding now of what our guidelines are.
PMN: Alright my man, thank you for your time. We’re excited to see you at middleweight and best of luck on Oct. 30. Then enjoy some candy on Halloween.
Follow Chuck on Twitter @ChuckONeilMMA
Check out Chuck O’Neil’s 11-second title defense against Emmanuel Walo at CES MMA 27 from Jan. 2015: