CES 29’s Chuck O’Neil talks fight with Dominique Steele, potential UFC return and CM Punk

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565CES welterweight champion Chuck O’Neil makes the second defence of his title June 12 when he takes on Bellator veteran Dominique Steele in the main event of CES MMA 29 in Lincoin, Rhode Island. Most people remember O’Neil for competing on Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter and since his UFC release in 2011, he’s quietly amassed an impressive 7-2 record. Despite his unsuccessful stint on TUF 13, O’Neil admits he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “I guess I could kind of say it was like [being in] a prison, so I loved it!” O’Neil told MMAOddsBreaker. “I’m one of that weirdo’s who loves those types of situations, to be isolated from the world and just be able to train all the time and not have to worry about anything else. It was a good time; I just wish I had better circumstance with better coaching and everything and that. But it was definitely a cool situation.” Following his departure from the Las Vegas based promotion, O’Neil would compete twice on the regional circuit before finding a home with CES. Competing for the organization seven times since 2012, the 29-year old had nothing but glowing reviews for the promotion. “The whole thing with CES is that they’re a great promotion.  They’re very professional, have a great matchmaker, and they’ve got great promoters. They do a very good job and they’re not one of these promotions that run all hours of night. They’ve gotten very good exposure being on AXS TV. A lot of these fighters need more exposure, they deserve more exposure. The talent pool we have in the North East area is huge. It’s good to get a lot of these fighters’ name out there. They take care of me and they do a very good job of putting tough opponents in front of me all the time too. So I’m very loyal with them and in my mind I’m sticking with them until I get to a bigger promotion like the UFC.” His opponent Steele (12-5) has gone 6-1 in his last seven bouts and has shown a well rounded skillset in all of those fights. However as O’Neil points out, it’s his durability that may be the biggest factor in this fight as he’s only been finished three times in his 17 fight career. “He’s a grinder man and he’s tough as hell. He really tries to bring the fight to you and try to take you down, make it ugly and just grind the hell out of you.  It seems like he has some lofty goals in his head if he thinks he going to take me down and punish me.  I guess you got to be confident going into a fight otherwise why take it? But he’s going to have a rude awakening when I put my hands on him.” Stylistically, this main event match up has all the makings of a “Fight of the Night” candidate and while the Triforce MMA product wants to make this an entertaining welterweight affair, he believes patience will be the key victory. “I’m not going to force anything, that’s the big thing. You start forcing things and you start making mistakes. When you do, you get emotional, you make even more mistakes and next thing you know you lose the fight.  I’m going to go out there, I’m going to fight my fight, not worry too much about what he’s going to do and counter off what he does. At the end of the day something is going to open up and we’re going to get a finish. We don’t get paid by the round, so the quicker the better.” O’Neil’s won four straight fights – three by way of finish – and if he’s able’s to earn another impressive victory, a return to the UFC wouldn’t be out of the question. The BJJ brown belt believes he’s evolved immensely since his first tenure in the UFC. “If you want to look at my skills from The Ultimate Fighter, I mean I look back at those days and I was a fricken bum. I was just a tough guy and my toughness got me all the way there which was crazy. I feel like my skills have absolutely escalated since then [and] if I fought myself back then it would just be absolute squash match. At the end of the day I want to fight the best guys out there and I feel like the best guys are in the UFC. Pat Sullivan and CES are doing everything possible to get me tough opponents.  I’ve had an open line of communication with Joe Silva [and] that’s what he wants me to do – keep fighting named opponents and guys that have good records. He doesn’t want to see me fight tomato cans, because you fight bums and you get back in there, that doesn’t do you any good. Because you’re going to go from that to one of Top 20 in the world and get your ass kicked. That’s not going to be the case because when I get back there, I have everything in place so I can be a contender and I can show the world what I can really do.” With pay scale revealed for the UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok, this has added hesitation among certain fighters looking to sign with the worlds biggest mixed martial arts promotion.  But if you ask O’Neil, he’s not one of them. “The big thing is like not every sport can you get all these crazy sponsors and everything. I think like the sponsors are just a little bit more on top of it. UFC is a lot more money than I’m going to get paid on the regional circuit and everything. I’m not one of those guys that’s driven to fight for money. I don’t have to fight; I fight because I love it. I’ve got a college degree and I’ve got a personal training business [in place that’s] successful. If I stop fighting tomorrow, I’d be able to have a nice life and settle down and everything. But the thing is is I love fighting and I want to have the opportunity to fight the best in the world. I’m not going to be getting Floyd Mayweather money but at the same time I’m going to be making decent money, on top of having my career that I’ll be able to do at the same time.” Along with his personal training business, O’Neil has also dabbled in professional wrestling this year.  Inspired by pro wrestling legend “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, O’Neil not only  fought in a pro wrestling match, he even made an audition tape that appeared on a recent episode of Monday Night RAW. “Myself and Eric Spicely got together and we starting training down in Providence, Rhode Island under one of the top [pro wrestling] Indy stars Biff Busick. We started training back in January one night a week and kind of kept it quiet. Then he came to us a couple months ago and he’s like ‘hey do you want to have a match?’ We went and had a match and it was awesome. Our coach kind of wanted us not to train again for the next couple of weeks until after our fights. Because it’s not too damaging on your body but the last thing I want to do is take a bump off my elbow or something like that. Kind of mess me up for the fight so we’re taking a couple of weeks off and then we’re edging to get back into it. It was kind of funny I made a Tough Enough audition tape and somehow it made its way to RAW this past week so it was pretty funny.” Should O’Neil emerge victorious and make a UFC return after this fight, it’s no surprise the main he’d like to compete against is former WWE supestar CM Punk, who recently signed with the UFC last year. “I would beg for that fight. I would actually fight him for a box of Cheez-It’s. He could keep my purse; give me a box of Cheez-It’s. the giant one maybe a little jar of peanut butter to put on top of the Cheez-It’s.  But at the end of the day I would fight CM Punk for a box of Cheez-It’s to exploit him and show him what a real MMA fighter can do.”   You can follow Chuck on Twitter at @ChuckONeilMMA and he’d like to thank his sponsors SmartPowders.com and Capecodnutrition.com 

Written by James Lynch

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