Dhiego Lima unloads on 'TUF 25' winner Jesse Taylor after doping fail

Dhiego Lima is feeling some type of way about Jesse Taylor’s recent failed doping test.

Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC), who earned the “The Ultimate Fighter 25” crown with a second-round submission of Lima (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) at the show’s finale back in July, was flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after estrogen blocker clomiphen was caught in a test conducted on Aug. 22.

Other than adding quite the unfortunate twist to what had been the redemption story of the year, the bust forced Taylor out of a UFC Fight Night 121 encounter and got him a one-year suspension from USADA. Still, given it stemmed from an out-of-competition test, it doesn’t change the outcome of his most recent bout.

That’s where Lima comes in.

Had it been a straightforward steroid, Lima said, it would be one thing. But the fact that clomiphen can also be used to cycle off steroids has him thinking – well, it has him pretty damn certain – that Taylor used PEDs in the leadup to their fight.

“For our fight, he knew our anti-doping would only be a normal pee test,” Lima told MMAjunkie. “So he must have done a cycle for that. And then, one month later, he flunked with a post-cycle drug. Of course he was taking stuff to fight me.”

Understandably, Lima is grappling with quite the plethora of emotions. Let’s start with the first and perhaps most surprising one, which he got right after a Twitter user alerted him to the bust.

“It was a relief for me, to be honest,” Lima told MMAjunkie.

Allow Lima to explain. He was on the same team as Taylor on “TUF,” which means the two had trained together for weeks. Lima knew how strong Taylor was. But as a big 200-pound welterweight, Lima’s not exactly frail himself. So when Lima was faced with a much stronger opponent than the one he’d shared a mat with, he was puzzled.

“That was on my mind – ‘Why was that guy so much stronger than me?’” Lima said. “I trained so hard, and the guy tossed me around like I was nothing? How? It’s not possible. I knew how strong he was in the house. So for me, it would be the same at the fight.

“I did what I had to do to win, but come fight time, he was like three times stronger than me. I got depressed, you know. I thought about the fight so much, and I couldn’t understand. I knew it. I told everyone after the fight that he was too strong, that there was no way that was possible. And there you go.”

Clomiphene was the same substance that caused former champions Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones to be flagged in relation to their respective UFC 200 bouts. According to USADA, it “indirectly promotes the secretion of testosterone,” which, especially combined with strength training, “has been demonstrated to increase fat-free mass, muscle size, and strength in males.”

For Lima, who even considered moving up to 185 pounds in fear that his weight cut had depleted him of strength, the failed drug test meant some vindication. After months of going over it all and telling himself – and everyone else – that being “thrown around like a kid” by Taylor didn’t make any sense, he at least got some peace of mind.

“I knew I’d done everything right,” Lima said. “It all clicked.”

But there’s also quite a bit of frustration. After all, Taylor’s win over Lima earned him not only the “TUF” crown, but also a generous fight purse that had never been given to a season winner before.

“It wasn’t just any fight,” Lima said. “It was a finale. There was $250,000 (it actually ended up amounting to $290,000) on the line. I have three kids. I trained very hard for this fight. I suffered so much. Some days, I couldn’t even walk because I was training so hard. I knew about his strength. I knew about his wrestling. I prepared for everything. I trained with him for six weeks. He was on my team.

“I knew what I had to do to win the fight. I did everything right. I passed my post-fight tests. And then I hear the guy flunked a test a month later, knowing he did a cycle for my fight? This hurts me a lot. I suffered so much for this fight, and the guy cheats to beat me? It pisses me off.”

Despite Lima’s claims, Taylor has maintained his innocence (via Facebook):

Instagram Photo

While Lima is aware that he’s not seeing any of that “TUF” money, he hopes the UFC will find some way of making it up for him. Considering that “TUF” winners get better UFC deals – in this case, Lima said, Taylor’s is $20,000 heftier than his. So he’d be happy just to get that.

“USADA is trying to clean up the sport, so they need to see that he took a post-cycle drug,” Lima said. “Who doesn’t see that? It’s common sense. They need to take care of me. And I believe they will. They have to give me his contract. We’ll see. He’s suspended, so he won’t even fight. I’m here. I passed my tests. I’m training hard. I’ll fight anyone.”

Of course, there’s one pretty obvious obstacle to getting his demands met. Although Lima, personally, seems quite certain that Taylor took the substance to get his levels back to normal after a PED cycle leading up to their fight, there’s really not much he can do to prove it.

Still, Lima is confident that, with some added support from his colleagues and a proper social media campaign, he should be able to get the UFC on board.

“The fighters are all on my side – especially the clean ones,” Lima said. “They know where I’m coming from. Brian Stann, who I used to train with, always told me: ‘Dhiego, when you fight someone who’s on PEDs, you will know.’ And that’s what happened in this fight.

“I have the fighters on my side. I’m taking to social media. Dana White likes me. So I think there is a chance of at least getting a better contract, especially now that they’re trying to clean the sport with USADA.”

Taylor, who ended up getting the highest possible sanction for a first-time offender caught with a specified substance, immediately maintained he’s “never done steroids.” Lima, however, suspects that’s exactly what his former opponent had been doing for a while.

“I’m no one to judge anyone,” Lima said. “But it’s common sense. The guy is 35 and has a back full of pimples. Where have you seen that before? Is he just hitting puberty now?”

The problem isn’t personal. Lima, in fact, won’t deny that Taylor’s comeback story was quite the intriguing one. But as someone who’s adamant on the fact that he’s 100 percent clean, the Brazilian is not OK with any fighter who tries to take shortcuts.

“There is a different in strength, of course, but this also helps them mentally,” Lima said. “We do a camp, we train very hard, and sometimes our body can’t keep up. Sometimes you’re all hurt and broken, so you’re not always training at 100 percent. They say it helps with everything. Their training sessions will always be good, because they have that.

“These guys don’t wanna go through the suffering, they want the easier way. The thing that helps with performance and recovery. And these guys need to be banned. For a guy like me, who’s never taken anything, who diets every day, who trains hard, who goes through all the hardships, it’s so unfair to us. It’s ridiculous. These guys need to be banned. They need to go away. It makes me angry.”

As upset as he is with the situation, Lima said that it’s also going to allow him to start fresh. When he returns to the octagon, which he plans on doing in December, he will be doing it with a clear mind.

As for his most recent opponent? Well, that’s his problem.

“His story was amazing,” Lima said. “What he did the first time, what he did to return. But if he can sleep at night knowing that he had to cheat to beat me? That’s his problem. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing I had to cheat to get something like this.

“He fought well and all, but I knew what I had to do. If he can sleep at night, that’s good for him. But I wouldn’t be able to.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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'TUF 25' winner Jesse Taylor accepts 1-year suspension for clomiphene

Welterweight Jesse Taylor will have to wait for redemption.

UFC anti-doping partner USADA today announced Taylor, 34, has accepted a one-year suspension after an out-of-competition drug test conducted Aug. 22 found the estrogen blocker clomiphene in his system.

Taylor’s (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) suspension is retroactive to Sept. 13, the day his provisional suspension began and he was officially removed from a fight next month at UFC Fight Night 121 when his potential anti-doping violation was announced. Taylor’s originally scheduled opponent, Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC), will now face Tim Means.

The one-year suspension is the highest sanction possible for a first-time offender who tests positive for a specified substance.

Clomiphene is considered a specified substance in the class of hormone and metabolic modulators. The drug indirectly promotes testosterone production and can be used to cycle off steroids. Banned year-round, it’s the same drug ex-champs Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones were flagged for in connection with UFC 200.

Following news of his positive test, Taylor indicated he didn’t knowingly cheat and asked the public to withhold judgment until all the facts of his case were known.

“The truth will come to Light! I am just as shocked and surprised by this tragedy,” he wrote on Instagram a month ago. “Our Team is looking into this matter. Let due process do it work before judging on the matter. Those that know me know this is wrong. We will Fight this and I will be back. I am sorry to Aussie friends and fans but that fight is off due to to this matter I am very bummed but we will get to bottom of this. I’ll Be BaCk.”

The suspension comes after a remarkable career turnaround for Taylor, who was kicked off “The Ultimate Fighter 7” for misbehaving off-set after the conclusion of the reality show. He entered “TUF 25,” a redemption-themed season of the show, and beat three UFC vets before submitting Dhiego Lima in the final to win the tournament and secure a new UFC contract.

Here is USADA’s full announcement:

“USADA announced today that UFC® athlete, Jesse Taylor, of San Diego, Calif., has tested positive for a prohibited substance and accepted the maximum one-year sanction for his anti-doping policy violation.

“Taylor, 34, tested positive for clomiphene following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on August 22, 2017. Clomiphene is a Specified Substance in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

“Clomiphene is not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the male population, as its use has not been thoroughly studied for safety and efficacy. Clomiphene also indirectly promotes the secretion of testosterone. Increasing testosterone, especially when combined with strength training, has been demonstrated to increase fat-free mass, muscle size, and strength in males, potentially leading to performance enhancement in sport.

“Taylor’s one-year period of ineligibility, the highest sanction for a first offense involving a Specified Substance, began on September 13, 2017, the date his provisional suspension was imposed. As a result of his positive test, Taylor was removed from the Card for the UFC Fight Night event in Sydney, Australia, scheduled for November 18, 2017.

“Pursuant to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, all UFC athletes serving a period of ineligibility for an anti-doping policy violation are required to remain in the USADA registered testing pool and make themselves available for testing in order to receive credit for time completed under his or her sanction.

“USADA conducts the year-round, independent anti-doping program for all UFC athletes. USADA is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental agency whose sole mission is to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of clean athletes. In an effort to aid UFC athletes, as well as their support team members, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on the UFC Anti-Doping Program website (UFC.USADA.org) regarding the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. In addition, the agency manages a drug reference hotline, Drug Reference Online (UFC.GlobaDRO.com), conducts educational sessions, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as the Prohibited List, easy-reference wallet cards, and periodic athlete alerts.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Tim Means replaces Jesse Taylor vs. Belal Muhammad at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney

Belal Muhammad will remain on next month’s UFC return to Sydney against arguably his toughest test as a pro.

Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) was set to fight “TUF 25” winner Jesse Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) before a failed drug test took Taylor out of their bout at UFC Fight Night 121. Instead, Muhammad will take on veteran welterweight Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC). UFC officials announced the new booking following an initial report from the Daily Telegraph.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 18 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The event airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Means got back in the win column in June with a unanimous decision over Alex Garcia at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City. Prior to that, he had a pair of bouts against Alex Oliveira. Their first meeting ended in a no-contest when Means landed a pair of illegal knees and Oliveira said he couldn’t continue in Brazil at UFC 207. In their rematch in March, Oliveira submitted Means in the second round.

Prior to those fights, he had won six of seven, including a pair of bonus-winning stoppages of George Sullivan and John Howard. His only loss in that stretch was a submission to Matt Brown at UFC 189.

Belal Muhammad

Muhammad has won back-to-back fights and three of his past four. He’s been busy since coming to the promotion for his debut at UFC Fight Night 90 in July 2016, just 13 months ago. Although he lost a decision to Alan Jouban that night, he picked up a “Fight of the Night” bonus.

Since then, he has a TKO win over Augusto Montano at UFC Fight Night 94 in Texas, and now consecutive decision wins over Randy Brown and Jordan Mein to get him back on track after a knockout loss to Vicente Luque at UFC 205 this past November at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Jesse Taylor

Taylor completed one of the most memorable long-term comebacks in UFC history in July when he submitted Dhiego Lima in the second round to win Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Taylor was a finalist on Season 7 of the show, but a drunken meltdown caught on camera forced UFC President Dana White to remove him from the final against eventual winner Amir Sadollah, and he was replaced by C.B. Dollaway.

But the glory from that “TUF 25” win didn’t last very long. In September, it was revealed that a potential USADA drug testing violation had forced him out of the fight against Muhammad.

The latest UFC Fight Night 121 card includes:

  • Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou
  • Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Jenel Lausa vs. Eric Shelton
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Jesse Taylor 'shocked and surprised' by failed USADA drug test, says he didn't pop for steroids

Jesse Taylor is doing his best to keep his spirits high in the wake of his recent notification of a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug test failure.

The UFC announced earlier this week that Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had been notified of the potential failure stemming from an out-of-competition test on Aug. 22. “The Ultimate Fighter 25” winner was subsequently pulled from a scheduled UFC Fight Night 121 clash with Belal Muhammad in November, leaving uncertainty around his future.

Taylor, who greatly redeemed himself after a disastrous first UFC stint in 2008 with an inspiring run through the “TUF 25” tournament, has finally broken his silence on the matter. He said he was taken off guard by the entire situation, and while many have rushed to label him as a cheater, Taylor insists he’s never done steroids, nor was the substance he tested positive for a steroid (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

The truth will come to Light! I am just as shocked and surprised by this tragedy. Our Team is looking into this matter. Let due process do it work before judging on the matter. Those that know me know this is wrong. We will Fight this and I will be back. I am sorry to Aussie friends and fans but that fight is off due to this matter I am very bummed but we will get to bottom of this. I’ll Be BaCk☝️

Taylor kindly requested that fans allow his case to play out before completely assigning blame. The 34-year-old has the right to due process with USADA, and he appears optimistic that his name will be cleared.

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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This Jesse Taylor quote about redemption is heartbreaking in light of potential USADA violation

Jesse Taylor provided the feel-good story of the year in MMA when he claimed “The Ultimate Fighter 25” title and $290,000 after a submission win over Dhiego Lima to cap off a season of “Redemption,” which featured the return of fighters who fell short once before.

In Taylor’s case, his downfall was one of the lowest moments in the show’s history. He’d advanced to the Season 7 tournament final in 2008, only to ruin the opportunity of a lifetime by getting himself kicked out of the house because of some unruly drunken behavior. Taylor received a second chance at the UFC but failed miserably, succumbing to a first-round Peruvian necktie to C.B. Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 14.

It took Taylor 36 professional bouts to finally make his way back for “TUF 26,” and his crowning achievement – finally at the age of 34 – was met with universal praise.

Which is why Wednesday’s news of Taylor’s potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency violation hurts. As our editor in chief, Dann Stupp, pointed out on Twitter, the news is especially heartbreaking in light of a particular quote from Taylor following his emotional win in July:

“Maybe they’ll make a movie about it one day,” Taylor said after the FS1-televised co-headliner at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Friday. “It’s not about the money. Don’t get me wrong – it’s going to change my life and my kids’ life. But it wasn’t really about the money. It was about the story – about redemption. That’s what it was about. I just wanted to show my kids, to be a good role model.

“Like, ‘Hey, you mess up in life, but you fix it, and you keep going.’ A lot of people mess up in life. I think I relate with people in that sense. I’m a pretty regular guy. Nothing too special about me. I just keep going.”

Taylor obviously is entitled to due process, but damn. I don’t know about you, but reading that quote felt like a punch to the gut in light of today’s news.

via GIPHY

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Belal Muhammad was chill about Jesse Taylor's failed drug test that canceled their fight

Belal Muhammad is well aware of the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in MMA. He speaks against them often, so when news broke Jesse Taylor was out of their scheduled UFC Fight Night 121 bout due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency violation, Muhammad took it in stride.

The UFC announced today that Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) tested positive for a banned substance stemming from an Aug. 22 out-of-competition sample, meaning he would not be able to fight Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) on Nov. 19 (airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

Muhammad may have lost out on an opponent, but he made it clear Taylor wouldn’t have won the welterweight bout whether he was bending the rules or not (via Twitter):

The UFC is actively searching for a replacement opponent for Muhammad, who is coming off a unanimous-decision win over Jordan Mein at UFC 213 in July.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Jesse Taylor out of UFC Fight Night 121 due to potential USADA violation

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Filed under: News, UFC

A potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation has forced Jesse Taylor out of this fall’s UFC Fight Night 121 event.

Officials today announced Taylor had been notified of the potential violation, which resulted from an out-of-competition sample collected on Aug. 22. No other details were given.

From USADA:

“USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Taylor. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”

Taylor was slated to fight Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at the event. A replacement opponent is being sought.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 19 (but airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It’s expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Taylor had completed one of the more long-term comebacks in UFC history in July when he submitted Dhiego Lima in the second round to win Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Taylor was a finalist on Season 7 of the show, but a drunken meltdown caught on camera forced UFC President Dana White to remove him from the final against eventual winner Amir Sadollah, and C.B. Dollaway replaced him.

Taylor had one fight in the UFC in 2008, a loss to Dollaway, then was forced to ply his trade for many other promotions around the country and world, including Strikeforce, WSOF, Cage Warriors and DREAM. But the “redemption” season of “TUF” was his chance to get back, and he took advantage of it after going nine years between official UFC fights.

Following the “TUF 25” championship, he talked about the comeback.

“Maybe they’ll make a movie about it one day,” Taylor said at the time (watch it above). “It’s not about the money. Don’t get me wrong – it’s going to change my life and my kids’ life. But it wasn’t really about the money. It was about the story. About redemption. That’s what it was about. I just wanted to show my kids, to be a good role model.

“Like, ‘Hey, you mess up in life, but you fix it, and you keep going.’ A lot of people mess up in life. I think I relate with people in that sense. I’m a pretty regular guy. Nothing too special about me. I just keep going.”

The latest UFC Fight Night 121 card now includes:

  • Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Belal Muhammad vs. TBA
  • Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Belal Muhammad says he's fighting Jesse Taylor at UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia

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It looks like the UFC’s return to the “Land Down Under” has a new welterweight fight for the card.

Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) announced on his Instagram feed today that he’ll be fighting recent “TUF 25” winner Jesse Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121 in November in Australia. UFC officials have not yet made a formal announcement of the booking.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 19 (but airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It’s expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Instagram Photo

Muhammad has won back-to-back fights and three of his past four. He’s been busy since coming to the promotion for his debut at UFC Fight Night 90 in July 2016, just 13 months ago. Although he lost a decision to Alan Jouban that night, he picked up a “Fight of the Night” bonus.

Since then, he has a TKO win over Augusto Montano at UFC Fight Night 94 in Texas, and now consecutive decision wins over Randy Brown and Jordan Mein to get him back on track after a knockout loss to Vicente Luque at UFC 205 this past November at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Taylor completed one of the most memorable long-term comebacks in UFC history in July when he submitted Dhiego Lima in the second round to win Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Taylor was a finalist on Season 7 of the show, but a drunken meltdown caught on camera forced UFC President Dana White to remove him from the final against eventual winner Amir Sadollah, and he was replaced by C.B. Dollaway.

Taylor had one fight in the UFC in 2008, a loss to Dollaway, then was forced to ply his trade for many other promotions around the country and world, including Strikeforce, WSOF, Cage Warriors and DREAM. But the “redemption” season of “TUF” was his chance to get back, and he took advantage of it after going nine years between official UFC fights.

With the apparent addition to the card, UFC Fight Night 121 now includes:

  • Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Belal Muhammad vs. Jesse Taylor

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

As in 'Dumb and Dumber,' Jesse Taylor thinks he's 'totally redeemed' himself

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LAS VEGAS – As far as redemption stories go, Jesse Taylor’s will be one for the MMA storybooks.

To say Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had a good night is an understatement. Not only did he conquer “The Ultimate Fighter” crown over Dhiego Lima (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) on Friday, he did so in decisive fashion – more precisely, with a second-round submission over the fellow “TUF 25” finalist. With that victory came a not-too-shabby $290,000 payday that no other season winner had earned.

Before reaching “TUF” glory at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, however, Taylor was the protagonist of one of its most remarkably low moments in series history. After making it all the way to the tournament final of Season 7 back in 2008, Taylor got himself kicked out of the house due to unruly drunken behavior during a night out in Las Vegas.

Taylor did get a UFC shot after the incident, but when a first-round Peruvian necktie by C.B. Dollaway put an end to that, it took Taylor some work – and 36 professional MMA bouts – to make his way back.

Yet, at 34, here he is.

“Maybe they’ll make a movie about it one day,” Taylor said after the FS1-televised co-headliner at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Friday. “It’s not about the money. Don’t get me wrong – it’s going to change my life and my kids’ life. But it wasn’t really about the money. It was about the story. About redemption. That’s what it was about. I just wanted to show my kids, to be a good role model.

“Like, ‘Hey, you mess up in life, but you fix it, and you keep going.’ A lot of people mess up in life. I think I relate with people in that sense. I’m a pretty regular guy. Nothing too special about me. I just keep going.”

Taylor is neither happy nor excited about the “foolish” behavior that led to the embarrassing end to his first “TUF” journey. In fact, not a day has gone by since in which he hasn’t thought about it. But he doesn’t regret it either. At the end of the day, it fueled him. It made him hungry. And it got him where he needed to be.

“Who knows? If I’d won back then, I might have been in and out and done with the UFC,” Taylor said. “And I just kept grinding, and kept plugging away, and fighting anyone, anywhere, anytime. And I think in the end, it got me a lot better. It made a better fighter and person.”

Taylor admitted there were moments in his career in which he got discouraged – particularly, when he went on long seven- or eight-fight winning streaks and saw people he’d beaten getting their own octagon calls. But even then, giving up was just not an option.

“I told myself, if it takes me until I’m 60, I’m going to get back in the UFC,” he said. “And once they told me about this show, through Tom – Tom Gallichio (fellow castmate) was actually the first to tell me. I was like, ‘Man, that’s about me.’ Like Jim Carrey said in ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ I totally redeemed myself.”

For full accuracy: It was actually Jeff Daniels’ character, Harry, who said that to Lloyd, played by Jim Carrey, in the 1994 movie. But in any case, Taylor made his point.

And the patience throughout the “crazy long journey” paid off big. But, riveting narrative aside, it was Taylor’s skill set that got the job done against Lima. From the start, the vet made it clear that he wasn’t about to take any unnecessary risks, using a pressure game to take him down and pretty much just keep him there.

The game plan helped Taylor breeze through a dominant Round 1. But, as soon as the bout restarted for Round 2, he saw himself on the unfortunate end of a left hook that sent him straight to the mat.

So, about that one dangerous minute there?

“Well, I did the strategy of taking a punch to the head,” Taylor said jokingly. “And he came on me, and I created a scramble. So I guess the punch in the head worked because he just jumped on me, and that’s kind of what I wanted. I knew I could out scramble him, from training with him on the show. And they say it’s an old trick, but I’m a rear-naked-choke artist.

“I think my jiu-jitsu is a little underestimated. I’ve been submitted a lot, but I think that’s life. I learned slowly but surely from my mistakes. I knew what it takes to win, and I trust in my jiu-jitsu.”

Taylor has certainly crashed the UFC’s 170-pound scene with a bang. But is it enough to make a quick rise through one of the promotion’s most stacked divisions, currently ruled by champ Tyron Woodley? On one hand, Taylor understands he’s surrounded by sharks. But, on the other, he said they might be lacking on star power.

Enter this vet with a really great backstory who has also happened to have fought “the best of the best” around the world throughout stints on Strikeforce, Dream, WSOF, ACB and Cage Warriors (to name a few).

“Then I come out of nowhere to take it all,” Taylor said. “I want to make a run for this. Maybe a fight or two, but I want to get contender status, and I want to go get that belt.”

Clearly, Taylor has had quite the learning curve in the nine years since he’s been trying to make his way back to the octagon. But some things may never change.

“That $250,000 was the icing on the ice cream – I don’t know if I’m saying that right,” Taylor said. “I think I messed that up on ‘TUF 7’ too, actually.”

To hear from Taylor on his remarkable journey – and the plans for his paycheck – check out the video above.

And for more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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TUF Finale 25 video highlights: Jesse Taylor vs. Dhiego Lima

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Jesse Taylor has the redemption he’s wanted for so long.

After being taken down and swarmed in the opening round, Dhiego Lima finally turned things around with a left hook that dropped Taylor at the start of the second.

Moments later, Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was back on top, taking Lima’s (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) back and sinking in the rear-naked choke to force the submission just 43 seconds into Round 2, claiming “The Ultimate Fighter 25” tournament title worth nearly $300,000 in the end.

The welterweight bout co-headlined Friday’s UFC event, The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The “TUF 25” tournament final aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Check out the highlights above.

Also see:

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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