‘Water’ running to Montreal for UFC 124
by Blaine Meller
When the temperature drops below zero, water turns to ice. On what could be a cold December night in Montreal, the man nicknamed “Water” will stare across the octagon at his opponent with ice water in his veins and stone-cold intent in his eyes. Jesse “Water” Bongfeldt, 30, makes his octagon debut on the undercard of UFC 124 Dec. 11 in Montreal, when he squares off against Rafael Natal. Bongfeldt is replacing Jason MacDonald, who had to withdraw from the fight after suffering an injury while training.
A welterweight title fight between champion Georges St- Pierre and rival Josh Koscheck highlights the card.
“I don’t know if it’s even hit me yet,” Bongfeldt admitted during a telephone interview from Kelowna. “This is a good chance for me, but you have to keep a duality of perspective. You have to be confident in being up for the challenge, but there still has to be that little bit of fear.”
Bongfeldt, 17-4 in his pro career, is a dangerous striker, but can beat his opponents on the ground as well. Of his 17 wins, nine have come by submission including five via rear-naked choke. He is currently on a seven-fight winning streak, the latest coming only 37 seconds into the first round.
That’s in stark contrast to his first professional fight, a 2004 loss to Jamie Varner in Vancouver. Late in the first round, Varner got full mount, a position where one combat sits on his opponent’s torso. Bongfeldt said he was in no danger from Varner’s “weak” punches when the referee stopped the fight. “It was really a controversial ending,” he said. “Welcome to the pro world.”
In preparing for Natal, Bongfeldt’s game plan is simple: Watch videos of the Brazilian, look for his strengths and try to formulate a plan to neutralize them. Natal, a Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, has won numerous grappling titles around the world and comes into this fight with a 12-3 record. “It’s a lot of taking notes at this point, seeing what he does well and then trying to come up with specific tools to fight it,” he said.
“I could sit back and make a game plan, but once you step in the cage, that plan can go right out the window. My plan is to train as hard as I can, get ad- equate rest and go in with a confident psyche.” Part of his fight preparation also involves cutting weight. At press time, Bongfeldt weighed 207 lbs., meaning he will have to drop an additional 21 lbs. The middleweight limit is 185 lbs, but fighters are allowed to come in one pound over-limit.
Fighting in front of a home- country crowd is something Bongfeldt is looking forward to, especially with the support 20,000 raucous fans at the Bell Centre can provide. “That might make it a little easier as far as nerves,” he said.