TUF’s Chris Holdsworth: I wanted to be on Ronda’s Team, but “changed my mind a bit” after meeting Miesha Tate
By Bryan Levick
Chris Holdsworth can be seen as a member on Team Tate on The Ultimate Fighter 18 every Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1. As Miesha Tate’s number six pick he has already made quite a name for himself and not only opened up the eyes of the fans, coaches and other fighters, but UFC President Dana White as well. He’s held his own thus far in and out of the cage and is slowly, but surely becoming a fan favorite.
Taking on Team Rousey’s number one male selection Chris Beal was a daunting task in and of itself, but Holdsworth didn’t let any of the hype get to him. Instead he stepped inside the Octagon and quietly and effectively went about his business. White built the fight up as a classic striker vs. grappler bout with Beal seemingly having more power and better hands while Holdsworth held the edge in grappling. At the end of the fight Holdsworth blew away that notion all the while showing off his slick Jiu-Jitsu.
“It’s hard to have a game plan in MMA,” Holdsworth told Alchemist Radio. “Of course you go over certain strategies that you want to do in the cage. Once you get in there all instincts come into play and you kind of go with the flow. Flow like water my friend!”
There is a reason why people believed that Holdsworth was strictly a BJJ practitioner. As he got older he trained extensively in Jiu-Jitsu, but there is a lot more to his game than just being a grappler. From the time he was a kid he was taking classes in some form of the martial arts including those that concentrated on striking.
“People think my background is just Jiu-Jitsu, but I actually did some Tae Kwon Do as a kid,” said Holdsworth. “When I started training in the martial arts again at age 16 I started doing Hawaiian Kempo, we also did Judo and MMA. The owner of the gym was a big UFC fan and he had us doing everything. As things progressed I started falling in love with Jiu-Jitsu and my Sensei wound up moving to Indiana. I was training BJJ under Patrick King and he took me under his wing and I started excelling and fell in love with the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Eventually I moved to Vegas and trained at Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu with Marc Laimon and I started to get more serious about competition.”
Holdsworth now trains in Sacramento with the star studded Team Alpha Male. He is surrounded by guys like Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez on a daily basis. As if that team wasn’t good enough it has since been bolstered with the arrival of Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Since Ludwig became coach they have gone an astounding 14-0 and are closer in and out of the gym than ever before.
“It’s amazing, I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Holdsworth explained. “Before Duane came in we kind of ran our own practices. We would just come in and it would be a Team Alpha Male brawl. We would go over a few techniques, but it was pretty much sparring every day. It’s probably not the best idea to get hit in the noggin every single day. Once Duane came he organized everything a lot better. Now our practices are set, he has his own “Bang” Muay Thai system that the whole gym is doing. I can just see everyone’s game excelling and trying to take it to the next level.”
“People are still getting used to his style at the gym. He’s constantly cussing and calling us Mother F***er’s! He’s definitely a unique individual and he’s always joking with people. Some people don’t understand his humor or when he’s joking. I’ve bonded really well with him and his family. I’m very fortunate to have him in my life. He’s helped me and led me in the right direction.”
Being part of Team Tate has given Holdsworth an opportunity to get to know her as a person and as a coach. Going into the show he had a preference of which team he wanted to be on, but regardless of where he wound up he was going to make the most of this opportunity. Because of Tate’s late emergence on the show the UFC had to bring in some coaches to assist her and interestingly enough this turned out be a big advantage for Holdsworth.
“To be honest going into the tryouts and into the house I wanted to be on Ronda’s team,” admitted the California native. “Just for the fact that it’s Ronda Rousey, she’s a great fighter and I liked her personality. Every interview I saw I would leave with my jaw dropped. I’ve always been a big fan of Miesha Tate too. It was hard for me to pick, but I wanted to be on Ronda’s team, all the guys wanted to be on her team. Once I spoke to Miesha and Bryan Caraway I really changed my mind a bit and thought Miesha was pretty cool. You never know what someone is like until you actually meet them. She made a big impact on me when we talked and after that I knew I’d be happy on either team.”
“I think she was a great coach, she didn’t have much time to prepare. Cat Zingano blew her knee out the week filming started. When Miesha first came to the show she didn’t have any coaches all she had was Caraway. They had to scramble up some coaches. They brought in Master Thong who I’ve worked with extensively at Team Alpha Male. They brought in some other coaches that I was familiar with so it was almost like being at home. There were no douche bags in the house and everyone got along really well. The team clicked and if you keep watching you’ll see how everything falls into place.”
Now that the filming is finished and Holdsworth can watch the episodes it allows him to view the show as a fan as well as a contestant. Being part of such a historic season where we not only had women coaches on for the first time, we also saw men and female competitors living in the same house has raised a lot of eyebrows. Some people are more curious as to what went on behind the scenes and others are of the belief that much of the show is scripted. According to Holdsworth what you see is certainly what you get. The biggest question everyone had was whether or not anyone hooked up during the filming of the show.
“Someone asked me recently how much of the show was staged and how much of it is real,” Holdsworth stated. “I said it was 100% real. It’s not Jersey Shore or The Real World. The only things that were staged were when we had our training sessions and when we went home. As far as everything else, the drama, the arguments and the things that happened that was all 100 percent real. I don’t know if everyone believes it, but I have no reason to lie about it.”
“The number one question I’ve gotten is whether or not I bagged Juliana (Pena) yet or if we are an item. I still talk to Juliana and we’re still friends. Fans will be able to learn more about everyone as the season progresses. I can’t really give too much away without giving too much away!”
Holdsworth admitted that he has seen his share of the previous seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, but he also skipped a few years because he wasn’t interested. One thing he promised is that TUF 18 will offer nothing but action packed fights that will keep fans on the edge of their seats.
“There wasn’t one boring fight this season, every fight was awesome,” said a confident Holdsworth. “Every fight had a different dynamic to it. I really enjoyed the episodes that have been released so far. I think the TUF production and everyone from the UFC is doing a great job putting everything together.”
Holdsworth has really become very popular in a really short amount of time. He has learned to embrace his fans on his social media accounts and opened himself up so they can get to know the person as well as the fighter. No matter how far he advances or how successful he becomes, Holdsworth plans on remembering where he came from and staying true to his roots.
“I was a fan before I was a fighter and I enjoyed talking to fighters,” Holdsworth explained. “I loved asking a lot of questions whether they were good or bad. I really enjoy talking to the fans and they enjoy it as well. People want to hear from you and know that you’re real. I’ve been fortunate to have been around some inspirational people. Urijah holds a lot of Team Alpha mind coaching sessions and we speak in public and learn how to be more comfortable talking to people. This is all new to me; I’m embracing it all and really enjoying the journey.”