Liverpool's Chris Fishgold (17-2-1) is set to fight Daniel Teymur (6-2) at UFC Fight Night in Prague on Saturday. ESPN sat down with Fishgold ahead of this fight to discuss his MMA origins, his fighting style, his opinions of Teymur, his plan for winning and more.
ESPN: How did you get started in MMA in the first place?
Chris Fishgold: I was in school, if I remember correctly. It was an IT lesson, we should've been doing our work on the computers and someone said, "check this guy out." I didn't know who it was then, but it was Tito Ortiz, and I'd never seen MMA before. I must've been 13 or 14, and I was like, "Whoa, what's he doing?" I saw him on the floor on top of someone punching him, thinking, "That can't be a sport." I looked into it, and it was the early UFC days. I was like, "I want to do that." So two years passed, and I never did nothing [about it]. I left school, I think I enrolled in a college course and my friend started going to Next Generation [UK] and he said, "Do you want to go and do a Thai boxing class?"
Being a young kid, you think you can fight -- everyone thinks they can fight until they train with fighters. I went down there, and Thai boxing was all fitness. It was good, [but] I'd seen people roll around on the floor after [the class], and I was like, "I don't know what that is." So I stayed for a class, and I remember someone half the size of me, half the weight choking me out and I was like, "This is what I need to be doing. This is the sport." It just accelerated from there, really, from going every night to twice a day, to having my first semi-pro fight, second semi-pro fight. Paul [Rimmer] asked me if I wanted to turn pro, had my first pro fight, and I won them all. As soon as I won my first pro fight, it's like, I'm going to be in the UFC, I'm going to get there. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, no one can beat me.
How do you like to finish your fights?
CF: I love guillotines, because it was the first submission I properly learned. Anybody that's ever trained with me worldwide will tell you about my guillotine. I know as soon as I get my hands around someone's neck, the fight's over. I think I've finished 12 fights by guillotine. I just like the feeling of [when] you start to feel the throat, when they are trying to breathe, you're waiting for it and you're watching the hand, and then you see that tap coming. It's just relief, like, "Yes, I did it."
With the upcoming fight this weekend, what do you make of your opponent Teymur as a fighter? And how do you think you can beat him?
CF: There's no easy fights in the UFC, that's first and foremost. He's done great things to get here. In terms of [him] as a fighter, he's 5-foot-5, very small for a featherweight. He's a very good striker. He was 35-2 in K-1 Thai boxing, I believe. But he's only ever really fought strikers -- I don't think he's fought any high-level grapplers like me; in fact, I know he's fought no grapplers like me. Realistically, after watching his other fights, I feel like if I want to go and strike with him, I feel like it's pretty even on the feet. You need to remember that striking in MMA is very different to striking in Thai boxing and K1 -- it's smaller gloves and you're a little more open.
But I'm not going to beat around the bush. Striking may be 50/50, [but] on the ground I'm definitely better. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what I'm going to do. I'm going to show people my ground skills and show them why I am where I'm at. It should be over within the first three minutes. If it goes past three minutes I'll be a bit disappointed, but this is MMA and anything can happen.
How exactly have you been preparing for Prague. Have you been doing anything special for this particular fight?
CF: When I went to the UFC from Cage Warriors I was a lightweight, and I dropped down to featherweight for that last fight. With dropping down to featherweight, I never did as much strength and conditioning, I never did as much lifting, I never did as much strength work or explosive work as I should have. It was more about focusing on, "I need to get the weight down." It was a different opponent. Looking at this fight with Teymur, he's lost his last two in a row in the UFC. You don't normally get a third or fourth. I need to have trained for the best Teymur there's going to be, because I know if I was in their shoes I would've put everything in my life on hold to do everything right and make a statement. I've basically said I'm fighting the best Teymur I've ever seen; he's going to have to fight the best Fishgold he's ever seen.
I've been doing strength and conditioning every day, working with high-level grapplers and high-level strikers. Working with striking coaches. I've become obsessed again with the sport -- I haven't been like that for a long time. I don't do nothing else, I don't watch nothing else. It's all about this fight. I need to give it my all for this. This is my dream. Not many people can say they accomplished the dream, and I'm 26. I want that title. If I died tomorrow, yeah, I'd be happy that I got into the UFC -- what I set out to do -- but it's all about that title now... and Teymur is the man in my way.
Tactically you said you're going to use a lot of ground wrestling. Is that your main approach to this fight?
CF: I say that now, but I know he's probably going to think that himself. He's probably going to think I'm going to try and take him down. So you might see some shots over the top, might catch him. The Canadian fans were absolutely amazing [for my last fight]; I'm pretty sure the Prague ones will be as well. I might have a game plan in my head, but when I'm walking out, if the emotions get to me, you might just see two of us out in the middle going to war. But yeah, at the moment it's going to be the ground. I'm a black belt, I'd be silly not to, and I'm a professional -- I need to get these wins.
How do you expect it all to end this Saturday?
CF: I'm not a cocky fighter, but I'm very confident in my skills. It'll be over within three minutes. If it goes past three minutes, he's having a really lucky night or I'm having a bad night.