On last week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos, Brock Lesnar emphasized the concept of “Any Given Sunday.”
When Chris Cope got into the Octagon, however, he didn’t wait for his Sunday to be given to him. He took it.
The San Diego-based welterweight, chosen for Team Lesnar with the 11th overall pick during team selection, defeated sixth-pick Javier Torres on Wednesday’s episode, giving Team Lesnar its first win in the preliminary round of competition. Cope succeeded in spite of the fact that one of his former training partners at Team Quest, Lew Polley, is serving as an assistant coach for Junior Dos Santos on the show, and was able to give Torres a strong scouting report.
Cope recently took time to speak with UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
Were you surprised when you were picked to fight second?
Nah, I knew they were gunning for me. I had the least amount of experience on the team. I thought I was going to be the first pick, but they picked Nordin instead. I knew it was coming. I didn’t think Javier would be the matchup. I thought they’d give me that had more fights, but from what a lot of the coaches said, a lot of the guys on their team said, Javier was one of their top guys, maybe Shamar, then Javier.
Were you concerned at all about being picked by Brock? You said that if his coaches could make him a world champion in five fights, just imagine what they could do with you, but at the same time, with your background with Lew Polley that came out after the fight was announced, was it a concern to have someone who knows you so well coaching the other team?
It was a little weird. I knew that Lew was going to tell Javier exactly how to beat me, what I do well, and what I don’t do well. What Lew failed to realize…he said on the episode that I’m a part-time fighter, which is basically bull$#!+. I train two or three times a day. I train just as much or more than full-time fighters, and the last time he trained with me was a year and a half ago. It was as if the moment that I stepped away from Team Quest, I stopped training. I worked on my game even more and got even better. I evolved, and I think Lew failed to realize that. That’s basically what happened. I beat Javier because of that.
You mentioned Team Quest, and there have been some stories about things going on there. When you stepped away from Team Quest, was it because you didn’t like how things were going there, or more your own thing for your development as a fighter?
The thing was, I was working 40 hours a week, and commuting to Team Quest three times a week, so I’d be driving an hour to Temecula from San Diego. Both ways, it would take two hours, and after a while, I just got burnt out on it. It was getting to be too much. I would leave at six, drive there, get to Team Quest at seven, train from seven to 10, drive back, get home at 11, and then have to get up at 5:15 the next morning to go to work, just to the point where it was killing me, so I had to stop.
The main thing I was using Team Quest for was—that the practice was great, I was going against good guys—but it was management. I was trying to get more fights. The thing was, I found a manager in San Diego, and I was getting more fights, so I didn’t really need to go anymore. Then, I found all the training partners I needed in San Diego, so there was no reason to go anymore. That was the main reason I was going there, for training partners and for management.
There was mention of your job. What do you do when you’re not fighting?
I work at a law firm, helping out the lawyers. My dream is to be an MMA fighter and a lawyer at the same time, so I’m studying for the LSAT currently, and trying to begin law school.
Do you think it’s tough for people to understand that? Lew called you a part-time fighter. Is it hard for people to understand how you can want to be a fighter as much as someone whose entire day-to-day life is built around fighting and training, but still have other career goals?
A lot of these guys are one-dimensional. You go up to them and ask, “What do you do?” They say, “I’m an MMA fighter.” The whole time that we’re in the house, all anyone would talk about is fighting. Fighting this, fighting that. Nobody seemed to have more of an element to them than that. Nobody wanted to talk about music, or…there were other times when we talked about stuff besides fighting, but these guys, their whole life revolves around fighting. My opinion is that it’s like work. You leave the gym, you don’t bring that with you. A lot of these guys, they bring it with them everywhere they go, and they’re one-dimensional. The way I look at it, it’s called mixed martial arts for a reason, but why not mix your life up as well? Be good at a bunch of different things. People say, “I need this whole day to train,” and that’s bull$#!+. All you can really do is get two or three hours of training in, and then your body’s done. I talked to Chael Sonnen about this, and he’s like, “Look Chris, the fact of the matter is this: Fighters are just lazy. I work, I do the same things you do, and I still have time to train.” Look, he’s the only guy who gave Anderson Silva an ass-kicking, and all you really need is two or three hours. If you get that in, you can do it. The rest of these guys, when they’re not training, they’re smoking weed, playing Xbox.
Fighting only lasts for a certain period of time, and then you’ve got to hang it up. None of these guys have fallback plans. You ask them what they’re going to do, and they say, “I’m going to be the champion of the world.” What are you going to do after that? You can’t be the champion of the world forever. A lot of these guys that are smart, in my opinion, are the ones who operate gyms, they own businesses, they’ve got clothing lines. Most of these guys don’t have anything. They’re barely making ends meet. I’ve always said that MMA, to me, is an extreme hobby. I went on the Ultimate Fighter, and I was basically going hunting. Big game hunting, that’s what it was. It’s a hobby. When you go hunting, it’s dangerous, your life’s on the line, but at the same time, when everything’s said and done, I’d probably be fighting if I wasn’t even getting paid, or getting notoriety. What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to prove something to myself, the man in the mirror, and what I think.
For more of this interview, go to UltimateFighter.com.