Over the past decade there has been a stigma that has been known to follow fighters who emerge into the UFC ranks after competing on The Ultimate Fighter, and Chad Laprise is eager to show he’s not that easy to categorize. Where some of his fellow winners of the reality-based fighting program have struggled to gain traction once they are official members of the UFC roster, the undefeated Ontario native is determined to show fight fans that he’s cut from a different cloth.
“The Disciple” knows full well his performances coming out of winning The Ultimate Fighter Nations will come with a lot of attention, and any back step taken will only feed into the notion that competitors attached to the fighting series are somehow of a lesser quality. With that in mind, the Tristar representative understands that he has the ability to silence those critics with his performances inside the Octagon, and his bout against Yosdenis Cedeno at Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine was proof of his eagerness to break out and make his own name at the highest level of the sport.
Laprise was relentless from bell to bell against the scrappy Cuban as he earned the lopsided unanimous decision victory in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And while hindsight has allowed Laprise to critique a few elements of the fight he would have changed, he was elated to get his hand raised in his first post-TUF performance under the bright lights.
“I felt like my fight against Cedeno was my first test in the UFC and I was able to dominate the fight,” Laprise said. “I was a little upset with myself that I didn’t get the finish. I really felt I could have finished that guy, but it was still great to get the win and I’ll get the finish next time out.”
While both of Laprise’s showings under the UFC banner have come on native soil, his next bout against Bryan Barberena will carry a bit more significance. Last year the talented Canadian lightweight decided to make the move to Montreal to train full-time under the guidance of world-renowned trainer and coach Firas Zahabi at his Tristar facility. For Laprise, the move was not only about the further progression of his MMA career, but a method of putting himself in a position where he would train and trade leather with some of the best fighters in the sport on a daily basis.
It was a sacrifice Laprise believes has yielded incredible results and he is eager to put not only his progression on display, but provide a showcase of the next wave of rising Canadian talent when the UFC returns to Montreal this Saturday night for UFC 186.
“It’s awesome to be able to fight in Montreal,” Laprise said. “I ended up moving up here permanently and it’s nice to fight in my own backyard. It’s going to be great to fight 15 minutes from home because I’ll have all the hometown support. I will also have all of my friends and family there cheering me on because they are coming up from our hometown that is about seven hours away. I couldn’t ask for a better situation. It’s going to be a great experience and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
“On the fighter side of things there are so many talented guys coming out of Canada right now. There are so many talented up and coming killers that people just don’t know about yet. I’m hoping that this card goes off really well and will be a great example of how great Canadian MMA can be. I’m going to go out there and put on a great performance and I really hope the UFC continues to bring shows back here to Canada.”
In order to make all of his intentions come to light, the Quebec transplant will have to best hard-charging lightweight Barberena on Saturday night. While the MMA Lab product is still running somewhat under the proverbial radar in the 155-pound fold, the Minnesota native made an impressive debut by drubbing Joe Ellenberger last December in Phoenix. “Bam Bam” was in Ellenberger’s face from the opening bell until he secured the stoppage victory late in the final frame of the fight, and it is that fast-paced, relentless style Laprise is counting on seeing inside the Octagon at UFC 186. He fully subscribes to the notion that it takes two fighters going all out in order to put on an entertaining scrap, and he believes that’s what will unfold this weekend in front of his adopted hometown crowd.
“I think people underestimate [Bryan] Barberena. He’s a very tough guy and he’s a tall southpaw and that throws a lot of people off,” Laprise said. “He’s also a very mentally tough guy who is going to come to fight. That definitely plays into my style and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m not going in there against some guy who is going to try to hold me down and win points. He’s going to try to take my head off, which is perfect. I’m going to be ready for him.
“It’s awesome to have an opponent who is coming in there to fight. I’ve fought guys like Bryan in the past and it makes for an exciting war. I’m going to be fighting in my hometown and I couldn’t ask for a better opponent. A win in this fight will be the next step on my ladder. I have big goals in this sport. Winning The Ultimate Fighter was one thing, and now I want to win that UFC belt. I need to keep racking up wins, stay undefeated, and I’m going to get there.”