Chris Beal waited patiently to make his debut inside the world-famous Octagon. And when he got that opportunity, he capitalized.
Last month, Beal scored a second round knockout victory over Patrick Williams after delivering a flying knee at UFC 172. For the alum of The Ultimate Fighter, it was a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
During the TUF tournament, Beal (9-0) was defeated by eventual winner Chris Holdsworth. He showed enough promise, though, to receive another bout with the promotion.
While still young in his MMA career, the California native knows that he can’t just bask in the glory of his initial UFC debut if he wants to reach his ultimate goals.
“I’ve gone back and watched (the KO finish) a few times,” said Beal, during a recent interview with FightLine. “It’s something I will never forget, but now it’s time to focus on the new challenge and get my next ‘W.’
“In a fight, you have a split-second to react. I noticed right before he was ducking and bam, that’s all she wrote. My coach and I worked a lot on knees and elbows. I think it was the cleanest shot, but not my most powerful; I have a mean right.”
During his time on TUF, Beal became close with Ronda Rousey, the reigning UFC female bantamweight champion. He was the first male selected by Rousey, and remains in constant contact with her.
“Ronda and I are family now,” Beal said, “along with the whole ‘Mean Green Team.'”
While that relationship is something he enjoys from the show, the rest of the experience was one filled with its fair share of highs and lows.
“(If I had to do it again) I’m not sure (if I would),” he said. “I think I may have gotten (into the UFC) sooner if I past the show up, but the (loss) I took (to Holdsworth) is what will make me great.”
Beal went back to BAMMA USA following his stint on TUF and earned a second round finish over Keith Carson. In all, he holds three career knockout wins, with the other six coming via decision.
“Nothing I will say will prepare you (for TUF),” he said. “It’s just one of those things you have to experience. I had three-or-four teammates and it still didn’t prepare me for it.”
Between the BAMMA USA and UFC fights, Beal competed twice within a few weeks, so he took time off to recover after injuring his hand.
“I’m looking to get my next win, maybe around August or September,” he said. “I’ll just keep training at KnuckleHeadz Boxing in Ventura with my boys Timmy (Riscen), Andrew (Cancio), Indian (Banuelos) and Miguel (Juarez). Oh, and my big brother, Joe Henle.”
Beal finished second at state in freestyle wrestling while competing for Ventura High School, along with being a CIF champion.