It has been quite an eventful last year for middleweight Chris Camozzi.  The veteran of the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter was riding high last October following his second straight win inside the Octagon.  That’s when his career took a bizarre turn.

Fighting on the main card of UFC 127 in February, Camozzi was submitted by fellow TUF alum Kyle Noke.  Despite his 2-1 record with the promotion, the Colorado-based fighter was shockingly released from the promotion, but it didn’t end there for the fighter.

Facing hard-nosed veteran Joey Villasenor under the Shark Fights banner in May, a judging error sent Camozzi home with a draw.  After a lengthy review process, the error was found and the New Mexico commission eventually awarded Camozzi the victory.

After the tumultuous series of events, Camozzi was re-signed to the UFC to welcome Francis Carmont to the promotion on Oct. 29 at UFC 137.  The middleweight spoke with The MMA Corner about the last year and his upcoming fight.

Chris Camozzi weighs in at UFC 121 (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Looking back to the Noke fight, Camozzi didn’t shy away from what happened inside the cage that night.

“I think I let the travel and everything get to me.  (I mean) what I can I say?  I got choked.  I guess I got it (losing) out of the way,” a lighthearted Camozzi said with a laugh.

Undoubtedly, the Villasenor situation provided the 24-year-old with a lengthy distraction.  However, rather than dwell on the situation, Camozzi used the advice of those around him to move past the difficult circumstances.

“It pissed me off a little bit,” Camozzi admitted.  “But my coaches and my manager helped me to let it go and move forward.  We decided that no matter what the commission said, we were moving on with my career.  That helped me get my head right.”

Following the eventual win, Camozzi was tabbed to headline Shark Fights 20 against Matt Lucas, but the UFC came calling yet again.  The fighter believes his style may have factored into why the promotion chose to re-sign him.

“I think after everything settled down after buying Strikeforce, they realized that their roster wasn’t as big as they thought it would be,” speculated Camozzi.  “I scored a win outside (the UFC) and they needed somebody to come in and bang with Carmont.

“After his last fight, I saw his manager say that’s what they wanted.  I think that’s why they called me.”

While the fight will be Carmont’s UFC debut, the former light heavyweight has scored 16 wins, including seven submissions.  Although his ground game has spelled trouble for him in the past, Camozzi is ready to show off his refined skills.

“You know, if I were him, I’d watch my videos and see that where I’ve had trouble is on the ground,” declared Camozzi.  “I’ve been working on it a lot with our new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, JJ Pugsley (a black belt under Dean Lister).  When I fought Dongi Yang and James Hammortree, I wasn’t even training BJJ.  I feel really good now and I’m ready to test it.”

Chris Camozzi (R) spars at Factory X (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

His submission game isn’t the only area that Camozzi has worked to improve in his time away from the Octagon.  Olympic wrestling standout Joe Warren has joined Camozzi to train striking at Factory X Muay Thai and in turn, Camozzi has joined the Bellator featherweight champ at his gym, Rino Sport Galleri.

So could fans witness Camozzi shoot for a takedown against Carmont?

“You know, we’ll have to see about that,” Camozzi said with a smirk.  “I finally feel comfortable and rounded enough that I could.  I’ve never felt that way before.”

“It just finally clicked,” proclaimed the middleweight.  “Those guys down at Rino have a great way of teaching (wrestling) and they’ve showed me shots that work for my style.  Joe will be in my corner in Vegas.”

Asked to describe his return to the UFC, the fighter opened up about the difference between fighting for other promotions and the UFC, as well as his mindset entering the cage on the 29th.

“It’s a new beginning,” Camozzi explained.  “You don’t realize how good you have it until you lose it.  Now that I’m back, I want to stay more than anything.  I’m ready to give it everything I’ve got.  Nothing’s going to stop me.”

Chris would like to acknowledge his sponsors: Headrush, Clinch Gear, Rev Gear, Blu Core Shooting, Daniel Defense, Performance MMA, Good4U Drinks, his team at Factory X, and his management team at Ingrained Media.

Top Photo: Chris Camozzi (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)
Disclaimer: The author trains Muay Thai at Factory X but shares no direct affiliation with the fighter.