There are few metaphors for success that fit as well as mountain climbing. Mountaineering is one of the most difficult things a person can do. For starters, the physical strength needed to walk up a steep slope is daunting. Throw in the lack of oxygen at those higher elevations, bouldering, slippery slopes and the complete and utter lack of juice bars or protein shakes, and you’ve got yourself a challenge. You are responsible for bringing everything you need and for making sure you reach your goals, even when you climb mountains with your friends.

Fighting in a Bellator tournament is a lot like crossing a mountain range, clawing one’s way from peak to peak. Just four weeks after going the distance against Diego Nunes in all-out war, Matt “The Mangler” Bessette is about to take on his biggest challenge yet—M-1 veteran and submission specialist Daniel “The Weasel” Weichel—at Bellator 114 in Utah this Friday, March 28.

Bessette (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Bessette (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

A fighter wants to get in and out of the cage as quickly as possible with the least amount of damage possible. Unfortunately for Bessette (but fortunately for those who enjoyed watching the fight), that wasn’t the case at Bellator 110. “The Mangler” was able to walk away with a split decision win to advance to the semifinals in the featherweight tournament. One judge saw the fight 29-28 for Nunes and one saw it 29-28 for Bessette, while the final judge saw all three rounds for Bessette.

“You can’t hide from reality. I feel like the first round was close, but that [Nunes] was able to win the round with that knee at the end. But I was confident at the end of the fight that I had done enough to win the second and third rounds,” mused Bessette in an exclusive interview with the MMA Corner. “I always come out ready, but I feel like I got a slow start. Coach said he was better in the clinch, so we planned on me staying outside and picking him apart. That was the plan, but then the first round happened and my instinct took over. The only thing going through my head in those last two rounds was, ‘WIN!’”

To climb a mountain, you have to have physical strength. Competing in the cage carries the same requirement.

“I am at 100 percent right now. I am treating this like an extra four weeks on my fight camp,” Bessette explained. “I came out here to Grudge [Training Center] in Colorado to get acclimated to the higher elevation. My cardio is on point. I am strong. I am ready to fight the fight I want to fight. I’m ready to throw down and I’m looking for another war.

“I’m doing all the same types of things—striking, wrestling, grappling, MMA training. So, in that regard, it’s the same. But we went to Red Rocks and ran sprints up the stairs, sprints across the top. It was the hardest running I’ve ever done. And then we did some climbing. And I am training with new faces. It’s the same wherever you go, but it’s great to get new looks, new timing, new faces. That’s all this fight is going to be, a new face in front of me…only now I get to hurt that face.”

Bessette (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Bessette (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Climbing mountains tends to bring out the philosopher in folks, too.

“I am a person that lives life happy,” he admitted. “I am lucky. I don’t have to pretend to want to kill people or be angry or cocky out of the cage, because when I step into the cage I want to kill.”

The next peak in his path is Daniel Weichel. The German “Weasel” has been fighting for years and amassed a 32-8 record against some of the best in Europe. According to the oddsmakers, Bessette is the underdog again.

“He may not have fought in the UFC or much in Bellator, but he is really well known over there [in Europe]. He is better known worldwide, but that doesn’t scare me,” Bessette revealed. “He has good knockout power and he has more MMA fights, but that doesn’t scare me. If you look at his record, about half of his wins are against 3-9 fighters or 11-7. Not all of his fights have been against top-tier opponents. We’re both brown belts in jiu-jitsu. Ever since I started fighting, I’ve been fighting and beating guys who are better than me.

“This guy is an excellent fighter. He is more well-rounded than Diego, so it’s a harder fight to plan. I train offensive and defensive everywhere, and I am not afraid to strike with anyone or roll with anyone, because I have trained with some of the best out there. Nothing he can do will surprise me.”

In order to win, Bessette will need to bring everything to this mountain— his strength, his will, his knowledge and his soul. He will be facing the toughest test of his fight career thus far, and he knows it. He is strong, he is happy and he is prepared to conquer. Bessette is ready to move mountains.

Matt would like to thank everyone in New England who has helped him through his career and everyone at Grudge Training Center for their hospitality and making him feel part of the team. He is thankful that he is getting the best possible training for the biggest fight of his life. He would also like to thank his sponsors: NAGA, Damato Chiropractic, RobLucey.com tattoos, Bad Ass Fight Wear and Revolution Environmental Consulting Service. Follow Bessette on Twitter: @ManglerBJJ

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.