There comes a point in every successful fighter’s career when everything clicks. Sometimes it’s after a hard-fought loss. For others, it might be a change of camp. Or it could be something different altogether. Regardless, to be considered part of the elite in mixed martial arts, the status quo is not enough.

At just 25 years old, Colorado’s Chris Camozzi has already endured quite the gamut of events over his 21-fight career. From a reality show stint, to a rather infamous broken jaw, a controversial release, an incorrectly tabulated scorecard and a second chance at the big show, the middleweight has been through a lot, but it’s all part of the journey of being a professional fighter.

In his last outing, Camozzi faced yet another challenge, battling through a grotesque injury against Dustin Jacoby at UFC on Fox 2 in January.

Camozzi (R) battled through a mangled left hand (James Law/Heavy MMA)

“I dislocated my middle finger in the second round,” Camozzi recalled. “I thought it was broken. It was sideways and crossed all the way over my index finger. While it was dislocated I couldn’t make a fist, so it stopped me from throwing my left hand. At the end of the round as I was walking back to my corner, I set it back in place. Once I got it back in, it was good to go.”

With all of his weapons back at his disposal, Camozzi would go on to secure a guillotine choke that forced Jacoby to submit in the final round—Camozzi’s first finish in five Octagon appearances.

“Knowing that I can finish inside the Octagon was huge for me,” said Camozzi. “Motivation-wise, it was like losing a fight. I came back more motivated than ever to keep training. It made me hungrier for more of those kinds of wins. A decisive finish feels so much better than a decision. I want more of those.”

Camozzi will get his chance at another finish on June 22 as he faces Nick Catone at UFC on FX 4 from Atlantic City, N.J. But despite the added motivation and confidence stemming from his last victory, Camozzi is not underestimating his opponent.

“He’s a gamer, pushes the pace and can take a shot,” Camozzi explained. “He’s a really solid wrestler and has good boxing. I just think in terms of MMA, I have more experience and I have better skills all-around. While I’d love a quick knockout or submission, if we get a Fight of the Night bonus, I’m happy too.”

Camozzi (The MMA Corner)

The fight with Catone, a New Jersey native, will be the fourth time in Camozzi’s last five fights in which he has fought in his opponent’s hometown. While some fighters might shy away from that scenario, Camozzi has embraced it.

“I have accepted the fact that I usually fight the hometown guy,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t see myself as a villain or anything. I like traveling and seeing new places, so it’s a good change of pace. It really doesn’t really affect me. The pressure is more on the hometown guy. He has to go out and perform in front of his friends and family. As opposed to me, I’m just going out there to do my job and get a win.”

Perhaps ironically, should Camozzi pick up a win over Catone on Friday night, there’s a chance he could fight in his own backyard when Denver hosts UFC 150 in August. That is, if everything goes as planned.

“I can’t look past this fight,” declared Camozzi.  “I usually have some rough, gritty fights, but if I am able to win quickly and come out injury-free, I’d love to be on the UFC 150 card.”

In his preparation for the fight with Catone, Camozzi has had a plethora of resources at his disposal. The evolving team at Factory X Muay Thai/MMA has helped the middleweight round out his skill set. It’s something that truly excites Camozzi.

“When I first got into the UFC, I was only training with a couple of guys and they weren’t even close to my size. Now I’ve got 8-10 middleweights and welterweights in the gym every day,” said Camozzi. “We’re getting so much talent in the gym, it’s ridiculous. Recently, we’ve been joined by guys that didn’t make the Olympic wrestling team and now they want to fight. Mark (Montoya) is a great striking coach. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, J.J. Pugsley, is a black belt under Dean Lister. He’s a big guy like me, so his style meshes really well for me.”

Camozzi (Second from right) trained with many of the UFC's top middleweights (Twitter.com/ChrisCamozzi)

As if the improvements to his home gym weren’t enough to help Camozzi succeed, the middleweight recently discovered a new ally: current No.1 contender Chael Sonnen. Sonnen invited Camozzi to Oregon to train alongside some of the most talented 185-pounders on the planet, including Brian Stann and Yushin Okami.

“The training was awesome; I was exhausted all day,” admitted Camozzi. “Traveling has also opened a lot of doors for me. There was so much knowledge and experience in the gym. I got to go through new stuff with some new coaches and training partners, and I learned I can hang with the best. It was a good change of pace in the middle of a camp. I think I’ll be going back quite a bit.”

It wasn’t all sparring and training while Camozzi was in the Northwest. For those that have followed Sonnen’s career, it should come as no surprise that the title challenger shared a different sort of knowledge with the Coloradan.

“I learned a lot about handling yourself and selling yourself, the marketing side of things,” Camozzi stated. “Just sitting there and hanging out with those guys, I learned so much about the sport and the business aspects of MMA. Not everything is done in the gym.”

Now, as Camozzi prepares to enter the Octagon for the sixth time in his career, everything has come together. From selling fights to finding finishes, the middleweight’s time is now—both in and out of the cage.

Chris would like to thank his entire team at Factory X Muay Thai/MMA: Marc Montoya (striking), J.J. Pugsley (BJJ), Chad Vandiver (wrestling), Wade Brinkman (S&C), his management at Ingrained Media, and his sponsors: MMA Elite, Rev Gear, Jamey Jasta, Tool King, Swole Sports, and Besties with Testies. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisCamozzi

Top Photo: Chris Camozzi celebrates victory (James Law/Heavy MMA)

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