Will Chope: “I won’t call myself a UFC fighter until I get a win in the octagon.”

Will Chope (19-6) was understandably disappointed when he dropped a TKO setback at the hands of Max Holloway in his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 34 in January.

It wasn’t his best performance. Not by a long shot.

But the way the 23-year-old puts it, the bright lights of the UFC got to him.

“UFC level is the real deal. I honestly didn’t have any jitters before the fight but when I fought Max (Holloway), they hit me all of a sudden and I cracked,” the lanky Californian told Fight Sport Asia.

Holloway found it hard figuring the 6’4” newcomer’s range in the opening stages of round one. Late on in the frame, however, the 22-year-old had Chope backed up against the fence, unleashing a string of vicious knees to the body. Chope was never the same thereon in.

In the second stanza, Holloway picked up where he left off, and assaulted Chope from the get-go. The 23-year-old weathered the continuous onslaught from the Hawaiian but could not withstand the barrage of punches that followed, forcing referee Leon Roberts to intervene.

“I felt I was doing well against Max (Holloway) at first, then at the end of the round I got caught and when I was in my corner I couldn’t get it out of my head,” Chope explained. “In the second round, I was a bit desperate to get a finish and I completely threw my gameplan out the window.”

That loss snapped an incredible fourteen fight win streak, which stretched all the way back to 2012.

Chope returns to action at UFC Fight Night 38 in Brazil next month. He faces ‘TUF: 14′ winner Diego Brandao (18-9) on the night’s preliminary proceedings. He will have a nine-inch height advantage.

Will Chope with a stiff jab thrown at Max Holloway in their 145-lbs tussle at UFC Fight Night 34.

Will Chope with a stiff jab thrown at Max Holloway in their 145-lbs tussle at UFC Fight Night 34.

The Featherweight match-up sees the 23-year-old heading into hostile territory, but Chope admitted he won’t be fazed by his opponent’s home-field edge.

“I think it will be similar to fighting in the Philippines for the first time against a local. I am actually used to being the foreigner fighting in someone else’s country,” he said. “You guys should see how it is fighting in communist China against a local (laughs). I’ve been in these sort of situations and I know how to prepare myself.”

While Brandao has often taken the plaudits for his ruthless aggression and striking skill-set, he has made headlines for the wrong reasons as well. At the UFC 168 weigh-ins, the 26-year-old reportedly cautioned Dustin Poirier that he’ll stab him in the neck.

Chope said he’s not worried about any of Brandao’s presumed antics though, and would rather prefer to do his talking in the octagon on fight night.

“I will just be respectful and shake his hand. If he refuses then no worries, it just makes it that much easier to punch him,” Chope said. “Hopefully my height will be very significant and I can frustrate him with my length and reach.”

And a victory is a must if Chope wants to keep his job in the UFC. The Phuket Top Team native knows exactly what’s at stake. In fact, he won’t see himself as a UFC combatant until he notches that first octagon victory.

“I won’t call myself a UFC fighter until I get a win in the octagon. Maybe my debut did come too soon, but I am still a young developing fighter. I am working hard everyday to do my best to close the gap between me and the higher ranked fighters,” Chope concluded. “As of right now, I am working on everything and just trying to become a better fighter.

“My thoughts are just to do my best and do everything I can to win and redeem myself. Trial by fire… it’s all good.”

Photo credit: Ultimate Fighting Championship, Nicholas Goh

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Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA writer. You can check out some of his work over on MMASucka.com. Follow him (@ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Featured, Interview, MMA, Phuket Top Team, UFC

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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