It took 10 years for Matt â€śThe Manglerâ€ť Bessette to receive a call from the UFC, which finally came this past January, when he inked a three-fight deal.
The second of those fights is coming up tonight, as the co-owner of Ascension Athletics MMA in Bristol will fight Steve â€śOchoâ€ť Peterson in an eraly preliminary bout as part of the UFCâ€™s â€śUltimate Fighter Finaleâ€ť event.
The main bout and later preliminaries will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), but Bessetteâ€™s bout, scheduled for 7 p.m., will only be aired online via the UFC Fight Pass subscription service.
Entering the featherweight division bout, Bessette, with 22 wins and eight loses, is ready for the challenge.
â€śThis is my dream,â€ť Bessette said. â€śThe UFC is the pinnacle of MMA. Itâ€™s like the NFL of football, the MLB of baseball, the NHL of hockey.â€ť
Bessette says his strategy is to stay mobile and not make straight advances, unlike his opponent.
â€śMy grappling is better than him, so I want to take advantage of that. This is my fight,â€ť Bessette said.
Not letting nerves or excitement get to him, Bessetteâ€™s only concern was yesterdayâ€™s weigh-in.
â€śThe hardest part about the UFC for me is losing weight,â€ť he said. â€śThe key is watching your diet. You have to be mindful of carbs and proteins and to not have any big meals. You have to lose a lot of water weight, and the best way to do that is to sweat it out.â€ť
To prepare himself for his peak performance, Bessette trains every day with bag work, kickboxing, weightlifting, sparing and jujitsu.
Bessette wasnâ€™t always an aspiring UFC fighter.
Until he turned 22, he had no idea what UFC was until a friend invited him over to watch some recorded UFC fights.
â€śAfter watching a few fights, I was hooked,â€ť Bessette said. â€śMy friend and I went out to his front yard and just started beating the crap out of each other like how they did on TV. I entered a little hole in the wall-type gym not too long after that. I kept transitioning from gym to gym, just trying to get better.â€ť
Being a fighter has certainly taken a toll on Bessette, who has broken his nose seven times.
He said one of his worst injuries was breaking and dislocating his thumb within the first 30 seconds of a fight. Bessette continued to fight with his broken thumb for another three more minutes. After a six month rehab and recovery, Bessette was able to fight again.