UFC 145 Winner Chris Clements Credits Chin of Keith Wisniewski: “I Know How Hard I Hit”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After countless hours of training, nearly seven years of professional fighting and at some stages, even contemplating retirement, the 36 year-old Chris Clements finally stepped into the Octagon Saturday night at UFC 145. In addition to making his UFC dream a reality, the welterweight secured a split decision win over the resilient Keith Wisniewski to begin what he hopes is a long run in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
“I actually thought I had a unanimous decision,” Clements told FCF, when asked if he was confident that he would be awarded the win after the final bell sounded. “When I heard his name then I was kind of like ‘what?’ I thought I had for sure won the first and the third. I thought I had done more damage in the second as well but he had my back…I was pretty confident I had the win.”
“I’m happy I got the win,” Clements (11-4) added, who secured a UFC contract with a recent run that includes victories over Octagon vets like Rich Clementi and Jonathan Goulet. “I think I was slow starting with my wrestling and it took me awhile to get more offensive…Other than that I was pretty happy considering it was my first performance in the UFC.”
And how were the veteran’s nerves prior to the bout? Considering what Clements has invested over the years to earn a UFC roster spot?
“Pretty good,” Clements reported. “I was actually surprised by how well I handled it. I said to myself, this is my dream, so go in there and enjoy it. I kind of stuck with that. I wasn’t too nervous; it probably was the calmest I’ve ever been for a fight. Before the fight started I ran around the circle and laid down in the middle of the cage…took a deep breath and said to myself “I’m in the UFC now”, soaked it all up, went in there and had fun.”
Despite the fact that Clements appeared to land several telling punches throughout the bout, the tough Wisniewski battled on and continued to pursue the noted striker. The decision win was the first of Clement’s career in fact, as all ten of his previous wins had come via knockout or TKO.
“I went into the fight knowing he had a pretty good chin,” Clements said. “If you look at his record he’s barely ever been finished by TKO or knockout. I hit him with some hard shots, especially with my overhand right, and I know how hard I hit. For him to take hard shots like that, he would take a step back like he was wobbled, but then he would just blink his eyes and come right back at me.”
Although any fighter would prefer a highlight reel stoppage and of course a crack at a bonus award, due to the competitive, three round bout, Clements was able to showcase various elements of his game. On a couple of occasions, Wisniewski took Clements to the ground and worked his way into a dominant position, however, the Canadian was able to avoid any fight stopping techniques.
“I’m glad the fight went the way it did,” said Clements, who also benefitted from a premature stand-up in the opening round. “I would have liked to have kept my knockout streak going but I’m glad that I got to go all three rounds; it shows that I have conditioning and that I can still inflict damage in the third round….I also got to show I can throw some different things, spinning backfists, backkicks, backelbows, some stuff people don’t always get to see.”
Now that he’s emerged victorious from his UFC debut, Clements will have to wait and see when the promotion would like to use him next.
“I don’t want to take a fight too soon where I can’t fight on the Toronto card in September,” the Ontario fighter admitted. “It’s a little longer than I’d like to wait, but if I have to skip a fight so that I can get on it that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’d really like to fight at home so my family and friends can come and see me.”