Chandler Cole will enter his first professional championship bout with a little added motivation.
The Coeburn, VA native tried out for Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter. The roster features heavyweights and will be coached by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and the next title challenger Kelvin Gastelum. Unfortunately, Cole didn’t make the cut despite his confidence he aced his tryout.
“I was bummed out because my tryout was perfect,” the 3-1 pro fighter told MMASucka. “I rag-dolled the guy in my grappling, my striking was on point and my interviews were great. They just started calling names and they didn’t call my name. I was like, ‘What in the world?’ I thought they missed my name. They didn’t. They said I didn’t have enough experience.”
Cole vs. Bush
Cole has now shifted his focus to his next bout: a championship showdown for the vacant Valor Fights heavyweight strap in the main event of Valor 51. His opponent is the 4-0 Aaron Bush.
“I think he’s a tough opponent. I’m super excited to really test myself against him,” Cole said. “I feel like he hasn’t fought anybody. That’s tough as well, because you don’t really know how good they really are. I’m training really hard right now and am preparing myself to fight my best fight.”
Cole’s not particularly pleased with Bush in the build-up to the fight. He said he saw an interview where Bush said he feels he’s better than Cole in every aspect of the game.
“I think he’s definitely underestimating me,” Cole said. “Good, I want him to think that. He may be just trying to hype the fight up, but if he truly thinks that, he’s in for a world of pain. He’s crazy.”
Cole has several things fueling his fire now: a title opportunity, an opponent he’s not thrilled with and wanting to show the UFC he’s ready for a chance.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I’ve got something to prove. With me winning this belt, I’ll prove myself.”
Potential Next Options
Cole pointed to Luis Pena, better known as “Violent Bob Ross,” who just made his UFC debut after competing on Season 27 of TUF. Like Cole, Pena competed for Valor, albeit once in the case of Pena.
“It shows that this is a promotion people look at,” Cole said. “If I become champion, there will be a lot more eyes on me. Maybe get on the [Dana White Tuesday Night] Contender Series. LFA is still an option. Bellator. All I’ve got to do is keep fighting, keep winning.”
The options for what’s next wouldn’t end there for Cole. He’s interested in competing at cruiserweight (225 lbs). He also would love the opportunity to defend the Valor heavyweight title if he wins.
“I’ve always lived by ‘A champion doesn’t win his title. A champion defends his title.’ I’m not trying to Conor McGregor the Valor heavyweight title. I’ll fight all-comers.”
To fight all-comers, Cole will have to hand Aaron Bush his first defeat.
“I’m gonna finish him,” he said. “I don’t know when, I don’t know how. I think if we were on a video game, my attributes would all be a little higher. Especially my looks, because he’s ugly.”
Valor 51 is set to go down Saturday, July 21 at Johnson City, TN, and will be available to watch on FloCombat.