UFC’s Jesse Taylor looking for redemption on new season of ‘TUF’
Jesse Taylor, a former contestant on the UFC’s reality show, has a chance to erase the memory of a televised drunken escapade that changed his life.
April 25, 2017 - 2:37 pm
Updated April 25, 2017 - 9:20 pm
When Jesse Taylor found out the new season of “The Ultimate Fighter” would be called “Redemption” and would present an opportunity for former competitors to get a second chance on the show, he expected a phone call.
Perhaps nobody in the first 24 seasons fits that theme better than Taylor.
He has wanted another shot since his appearance on Season 7 in 2008 ended in complete disgrace.
Taylor worked his way through the tournament despite warnings from several teammates about his partying in the house.
After he clinched a spot in the finals, Taylor celebrated with a night out in Las Vegas. He drunkenly kicked out the window of a limo, destroyed property and disrespected several employees.
It all took place at Palace Station, a property owned by then-UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.
The welterweight was removed from the championship fight by the organization.
He has fought around the world in countless promotions in the past decade, going 30-15 as a pro, but never has been able to get past his televised nightmare.
“(I hear about it) all the time,” he said on the set of the show that taped in Las Vegas. “Every interview I get asked about what happened at the end of the show. They always ask about that fateful night, but it’s a big part of my story. As much as it sucks, it makes for a great comeback tale. I’m finally here, and I hope to just keep moving forward.”
The first episode of the new season aired April 19 on Fox Sports 1. Taylor was selected to the team coached by TJ Dillashaw. UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt coaches the opposing team.
Dillashaw and Garbrandt will meet for the belt at UFC 213 on July 8 at T-Mobile Arena. The Season 25 champion will be determined July 7 at T-Mobile.
Taylor hopes he can navigate the field of contenders to get another title shot. Even if it doesn’t happen, he knows he will be a major part of the show.
“I think I’m the whole story,” he said. “I think I am redemption. Everything that happened to me on the show to my career after the show, all the trials and tribulations fighting all over the world. I’ve been on seven-fight win streaks and then lost a few. I’ve been through it all. It’s been a constant uphill battle to get back to the UFC, and I think it’s awesome timing and a great way to get a second chance.”
Taylor did get one UFC fight in 2008 after his chaotic rampage. He had assured UFC officials he had been in rehab and was on the right track.
After he was submitted by CB Dollaway, Taylor was released by the organization.
He has traversed the world looking for redemption, but had a feeling his path would bring him back to Las Vegas.
The 34-year-old Californian wants to use his TV time for more than just showing he can still fight.
“One incident doesn’t define me,” he said. “I’ve had so much to prove since then. I’m so much more than that. I’ve always been the guy that maybe wasn’t ever going to live up to his potential. Now is my chance. I’m here to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity.”
Taylor insists he has changed. He partied throughout his time in the house last time, but swears his days of urinating on himself are well in the past.
“I’ve messed up a thousand times,” he said. “I’m slowly but surely learning. It’s slowly for sure, but I am learning.”
Taylor knew this was his destiny the moment he found out about the concept. He had a brief thought about whether it was the right move for his career, but was sure the UFC would want him back.
“Once I knew they were doing this, I knew if I showed interest they would have to have me back,” he said. “It’s called redemption. I am the redemption story.”
He has a second chance. Now Taylor knows he can’t throw it away again.
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How to Watch
What: The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays through July 5
TV: Fox Sports 1