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Wednesday, Nov 03, 2010

Better Late Than Never, Bongfeldt Talks Upcoming UFC Debut

By Kelsey Mowatt; photo courtesy Jesse Bongfeldt
MMA observers in Canada have been familiar with the name Jesse Bongeldt for some time. The Kenora fighter and long time training partner of former UFC competitor Jason Day, has gone 12-1 since 2005, earning wins over UFC veteran TJ Grant and Octagon newcomer Sean Pierson. Bongfeldt’s only loss during that stretch came against Jonathan Goulet in 2007, one of the nation’s more accomplished fighters and another UFC vet. As a result, Bongfeldt’s name has been on the UFC watch list in Canada for quite a while, and recently it was announced that the middleweight fighter will finally make his Octagon debut, December 11th, against Rafael Natal. (Pictured above: Bongfeldt celebrating a win)
“I’ve been offered a couple of times to fight at welterweight,” Bongfeldt recently told FCF, who was offered the bout with Natal at UFC 124, after fellow Canadian Jason MacDonald dropped out due to injury. “Over the last couple of years I’ve been working my way up and I did a couple of fights last year at middleweight. I was hoping to do a couple of fights, three or four, actually at light-heavyweight, before I went to the UFC.”
“I was excited and thought it was perfect timing the way training has been going,” the 30 year-old-fighter added. “Might as well go for it. You can always make the move up to the next division later if need be; but it’s a great starting point.””
Of course, having fought professionally in Canada since 2002, Bongfeldt is no stranger to competing in Montreal where UFC 124 will he held.
“Absolutely,” said Bongfeldt, when asked if making his UFC debut on Canadian soil makes it that much more special. “Having the crowd there with me is a bonus. I’ve fought at the Bell Centre a few times; that will be nice, but it’s still going to be a different atmosphere. I went to UFC 97 and watched Mauricio “Shogun” Rua knock-out Chuck (Liddell), so I’ve also seen the atmosphere from the outside perspective. It’s absolutely exciting; a dream come true.”
Natal will head into the bout having been defeated in his first UFC bout at Fight Night 22 in September, as the Ring of Combat vet lost by unanimous decision to Rich Attonito. Prior to that, while competing under the Moosin banner in May, Natal knocked out former “Ultimate Fighter” winner, Travis Lutter. The New York fighter is 7-3 in his last ten bouts.
“He has a positional strategy,” Bongfeldt said when asked what he knows about Natal. “He likes to stay back; stick and move, then work his takedowns. There’s different ways to deal with that. Without revealing too much, it’s a basic game these days. Everybody’s got a fairly, orthodox, standard to finishing fights these days. So, I just need to stay away from his strong points and try to use mine.”
“I’ve been able to look at his fights quite a bit actually,” Bongfeldt added. “Some of them are pretty recent; so that’s nice. He’s probably got some footage of me but that’s older stuff. As fighters we evolve and change; we get to these new levels and our game adapts. That’s what stepping your foot on the mat or in the cage is all about. Figuring out your opponent’s strategy and position, making tactical decisions during the fight, make a game plan and hopefully be able to enact that.”
After living and fighting out of the Canadian Martial Arts Center in Lethbridge, Alberta for some time, Bongfeldt returned to his native Kenora few years ago, where he now runs his own gym. 
“I’ve always stayed loyal to CMAC (Canadian Martial Arts Center) and those guys; they’ll always be part of the fold,” said Bongfeldt, who revealed he’ll also be heading out to Kelowna, British Columbia, to train with David Lea’s Team Toshido, the home gym of UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald. “I’ve got some guys here that I train with who help me out. To grow and change as a fighter often you need that fresh perspective, so traveling around and training with other guys is great.”
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 1:21 pm
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