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For Holdsworth, The Only Direction is Up

"I always look for the finish. That’s my mentality, that’s just my style." - Chris Holdsworth
UFC bantamweight Chris Holdsworth
It’s been a long time since Chris Holdsworth has experienced the bitter taste of defeat in competition. How long?

“I lose at something every day,” he laughs, possibly referring to his training sessions with his Team Alpha Male squad, but more likely stalling until he comes up with the real answer.

The seconds tick by.

“Probably as far as competition goes, a grappling or jiu-jitsu match,” he says. “Was I a brown belt?”

That’s enough of an answer. How long has it been? He can’t even tell you, making it clear that whatever loss he did suffer on the mat, it isn’t something that eats him up every day.

“You have to let it go,” said Holdsworth. “If you dwell on your past, you’re not going to have a good future. You’re always going to be looking at the things you did wrong and the woulda, shoulda, couldas of life. And I think that’s just not the way to go about it. You’ve got to put those in the back seat and just focus on what’s in front of you and what you’re going to do better next time. But I can tell you one thing, I won’t forget their faces if I ever see them again. (Laughs) I might not remember the date or the time, but if I saw them again, I’ll know who it is.”

In six pro mixed martial arts fights and four amateur bouts, Holdsworth hasn’t come close to losing. He has also finished each fight, with only two of them straying into the second round. Even the two fights on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter that didn’t count on his official record went the route – Holdsworth by finish. So if there’s more than a little bit of anticipation for his UFC 173 bout against Chico Camus this Saturday night – his first since winning TUF 18 last November, that’s understandable. But few people in his position would be as cool as he’s been, a testament, he says, to being around teammates like Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes, and Danny Castillo.

> Watch: The SHOOT! with Chris Holdsworth

“Just being around all the guys and seeing the process the last few years before I made it to the big show helped me out a lot. Seeing how they went through it and how they dealt with it kind of helped me deal with it myself. You have to embrace it. It’s part of the job. When you go in to fight, you’ve got to expect media and you’ve got to take time for the fans. And if it wasn’t part of the job, we wouldn’t have a lot of the benefits that we do have as fighters – people looking up to us and being a role model and all that. So I embrace it all, have fun with it, and just enjoy life.”

One conversation with the 26-year-old Californian will make it abundantly clear that he is enjoying life and his time in the spotlight. Yet while he says his ease in the public eye and ability to enjoy the ride has a lot to do with his teammates, it may have even more to do with the likelihood that having Chico Camus trying to punch him in the face can’t possibly compare to losing your brother when you were just eight years old, or being bullied, or dealing with any of the realities of life that Holdsworth has.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life,” he said. “People know some things that I’ve been through, and there are things that I haven’t made public that I keep to myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been dragged through the trenches and been able to see a lot as a human being. I’ve learned a lot from it, I’ve learned a lot of important life lessons on what to do and what not to do in certain situations and I think it’s helped me a lot as far as becoming a better person in general.”

But why not use such incidents as a crutch like so many do, as an excuse to go down the wrong path? Holdsworth doesn’t buy such reasoning.

> Watch: TUF 18 Elimination Bout - Holdsworth vs. Fisette

“I think my parents taught me right and they taught me really good manners and how to be a good person,” he said. “Not a lot of people know this, but I was born into Buddhism and both my parents have been practicing it for over 40 years. It’s a lot about karma and about treating people right and learning from a lot of life’s experiences. That’s helped me out a lot. And yeah, I’ve been through a lot, but what would life be if we didn’t have obstacles or have experiences we could learn from and become better?”

It’s around this time in Holdsworth’s life and career where you look at him, hear what he has to say, and realize that he has the potential to become a star in this sport. Sure, it’s early, and he’s only beginning his post-TUF career this weekend, but he’s got everything going for him in and out of the Octagon, and most importantly, he’s got the right attitude. Just look at his take on the gritty Camus, no easy mark by any stretch of the imagination:

“He’s a great fighter, he’s beat some good guys and he’s got some good wins and a good record, but he hasn’t fought me yet,” said Holdsworth, whose goal for this weekend’s bout is the same as it is for every fight he has.

> Watch: TUF 18 -  Wootten vs. Holdsworth Full Fight

“I always look for the finish. That’s my mentality, that’s just my style. I’m an aggressive fighter and if I see a choke or I see an arm, I’m gonna try to take it. I’m trying to finish the fight as fast as possible, get paid, and move on to the next one.”

It’s been a long time since the last one, too long for Holdsworth, but it’s safe to say he’s happy to be back.

“I’m ready to get back in there,” he said. “I had some injuries I wanted to heal up and I wanted to go about this the right way. I’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this, it’s been a long grind, and I’m ready to get in there, May 24 on FOX Sports 1, and I’m ready to perform and get my hand raised.”


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