EXCLUSIVE | Clint Hester Talks TUF 17, TUF Finale and His Debut in the UFC this Weekend | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio
This week on BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio show we welcomed TUF contestant Clint Hester back to the program. Heading into the final week of the show’s broadcast Clint spoke about several topics surrounding the show and its impact on his life as a fighter, his relationship with the other fighters, and his upcoming official UFC debut at this weekend’s TUF Finale on FX. Here are some of the highlights from his interview:
Clint first talked about Bubba McDaniel getting the wildcard pick instead of him and Bubba’s fight agasint Urijah Hall last week:
“With Bubba it was basically he just worries himself sometimes a little bit too much when he has big opponents. And that’s just something he does. It wasn’t just specifically Urijah. He said he’s done that with other bigger fights that he’s had. And then what they showed that he was worried about was really his kidneys because he was having lower back pain and then after the Kevin Casey situation he just wanted to make sure his health was ok and that he was ready to fight. But he was having lower back pain so he was worried that keeping his weight down for so long was becoming too much of a stress on his body. So that’s what he was really worried about but he did play a couple of things inside his head, over thinking the fight with Urijah but once it was time to go, once the doctor said he was able to fight and it was just a strained muscle in his back he was definitely ready to go.”
On Bubba’s fight against Urijah:
“Just watching the fight I was hoping Bubba came out victorious because he was on my team. Unfortunately we saw what happened and it was a small opportunity, a small window that Urijah had and he took totally advantage of that opportunity that he had. But as soon as I was watching I was just hoping the best for Bubba. He was my teammate and I helped him get ready for the fight, I helped him with the game plan a little bit, on trying to get Urijah to the cage and really clinching with him and wearing his arms and legs out so it could really slow him down because he’s a really, really explosive guy.”
Clint gave his opinion on whether Josh Samman was supposedly “ducking” the fight against Urijah throughout the entire season:
“When you come down to the tournament we’re in you definitely have to have a strategy of who you want to fight and what’s the best way for you to get to the finale, so as far as him ducking Urijah I wouldn’t say he was, so to speak, “ducking” him. He’s just been trying to get him in the finale which now he has the opportunity, if he can get past Kelvin, he’ll have the opportunity to fight Urijah, if Urijah can get Dillon. It’s just pretty much these last two fights that are coming up.”
Thoughts on being a fan favorite on the this season’s show:
“I haven’t read any of the forums or anything but on my social media I get it at least 5 to 10 times a day that I should have been the wild card pick and they want to see me against Urijah and I really feel good that so many people think highly of me and that I’ve been portrayed to be this likeable guy. I think it comes from my laid back, nonchalant attitude and I always try to stay humble and I’m glad that’s paying off and it’s been worth it this whole time.”
On mutual respect for other fighters in the house:
“We have a great deal of respect for one another. Even with fighters from the other team. Me and Jimmy have respect, me and Urijah have a lot of respect for each other. King, Tor, and then all my teammates, like even Kelvin. We all have respect. Luke. We all have respect for each other and they all liked me because I was that guy that never caused any problems, didn’t over think anything, I wasn’t complaining, I just kind of sat back and enjoyed my time while I was there and was always ready to fight.”
Is it hard keeping the TUF outcome and finale matchups under wraps?
“Oh it’s simple. I mean, they have me on a 5 million dollar disclosure form so that makes everything pretty easy (laughs). I just tell them I can’t say. My training partners, some of my training partners know, and my coaches know because we have a game plan for him and I think Saturday is going to be a great card. It’s going to be an amazing card.”
As UFC debut fight approaches are the days getting longer or shorter?
“Um, they’re actually pretty short because I’ve been training so much. It’s just training, training, training. Then the next day, training, training, training, then the next day. Even today went by pretty fast. So tomorrow I can look forward to training then it’ll be time for me to rest up and hop on a plan on Tuesday morning. Actually the time since I’ve been out of the house has actually flown by, I’m just glad I’ve tried to make the most of it and I’ve worked hard. I’m just ready to go out there and showcase my skills, again.”
Would you do it all again and what would you change?
“Depending on what it was for and depending on how big the end reward is. If it was a big enough end reward I would definitely go back on and knowing what I know now, the only thing I would change is being more vocal about who I wanted to fight.”
“That would be my only regret because I ended up with the worst possible matchup I could have ended up with and I still showed so much improvement through my career in that fight. I did a great job against Jimmy in the first round, stuffing the takedowns and making him pay for trying to take me down and really trying to punish him and I feel like I did a good job compared to some other fights that I’ve had and other fighters that have taken me down and held me down on the ground, like, I went down and then got right back up. I just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. So if I could do it all over again I would have probably opted for him in the later rounds.”
Did all contestants deserve to be on this season of TUF?
“I would definitely say yes because the across the board the talent level, the fighting level was even. Like, some people were better at wrestling, some were better at jiu-jitsu, some were better at striking. If you took it overall, as a whole, everyone was right there. If you do our season 10 times you’d probably have 10 different people in the finale.”
You can follow Clint on Twitter @ClintHester and be sure to catch his official UFC debut fight at The Ultimate Fighter Finale this Saturday on FX.