Opportunity is knockin’: Chattelle prepares for ultimate test against former UFC veteran Howard

Written by: Eddie Goldman

From CES:

LINCOLN, R.I. (Feb. 21, 2012) – Todd“The Hulk” Chattelle will make the jump from spectator to contender when hefaces a fighter he’s spent most of life admiring from afar.

The reigning Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc., middleweight championwill put his title on the line against Boston, Mass., native and UltimateFighting Championships (UFC) veteran John “Doomsday” Howard in the main eventof CES’ “Never Surrender” mixed martial arts event at the Twin River EventCenter in Lincoln, R.I., on Friday, April 13th, 2012.

“I’ve always looked up to him because of what he’s accomplished,” saidChattelle, who was named the Boston Herald Fighter of the Year and ComebackFighter of the Year in 2011, “but if he’s going to stand in the doorway, then Ihave to push through.”

Chattelle (10-6, 8 KOs), a Pawtucket, R.I., native, has followed most ofHoward’s career, including “Doomsday’s” UFC debut in 2009 when he defeatedChris Wilson in Las Vegas, and his win over Tamdan McCrory seven months laterin Philadelphia, both of which Chattelle attended. Now he has the opportunityto beat one of his idols in a fight that could take his career to the nextlevel.

“Why not?” Chattelle said when asked if a win could land him a spot on a futureUFC card. “I’ve faced four Top 5 guys in a row, and this will be the fifth.

“This is a big fight. I’m training harder than ever because he’s a UFC veteran,and because he is who he is. He’s been there, and I’m trying to get there.”

For Howard (15-7, 4 KOs), the goal is to get back to the UFC after thepromotion released him in July following a three-fight losing streak, whichculminated in a controversial, unanimous-decision loss to Matt Brown on June26th. Howard had won his first four UFC bouts in the competitive welterweightdivision before the landslide began with a knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger in2010, a fight stopped in the third round due to the swelling around Howard’sleft eye. Beating Chattelle on April 13th won’t punch Howard’s ticket back tothe UFC, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“I’ve got to take it fight by fight,” Howard said. “Right now, I’ve got to treatevery fight like it’s the biggest fight of my career. Don’t think for a secondI’m sitting back thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m a badass,’ or resting on pastaccomplishments.

“I’m not taking it lightly because I can’t. This is a lose-lose situation forme. If I win, it’s because I’m supposed to. If I lose, people will say, ‘You’resupposed to be in the UFC?’ For him, it’s a win-win. This is his test. I havenothing new to prove. I’ve been to the big show. This will be his chance to seewhere he belongs on the food chain. This is an opportunity for me to get backinto the swing of things.

“I’m real confident, but I respect him.”

Chattelle might have the edge in familiarity; the fight will take place at hiscustomary weight of 185 pounds, while Howard will be stepping above thewelterweight division for the first time in five years. A less strenuousweight-cut could prove beneficial for Howard, who typically walks around at 205pounds or heavier, though he admits he’s a “little nervous” about bulking up toface Chattelle.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’ll try to use my skill and experience tomy advantage.”

“The fact of the matter is he’s just another opponent,” Chattelle countered.“Yeah, he’s a UFC veteran, but I’m the No. 1 fighter in New England. He doesn’teat rock. He doesn’t eat metal. He’s a man, just like me.”

Considering he won’t turn 29 until March 1st, Howard can afford to take theone-fight-at-a-time approach.

“To tell you the truth, you really don’t hit your prime in this sport until you’re32 or 33,” Howard said. “Look at [former UFC light heavyweight champion] ChuckLiddell. He started at 28. Look at him now. I’m just getting my second wind at28. When I hit 30, I’ll hit my prime. That’s how I look at it. Some guys didn’tstart until late in their career. Look at [UFC middleweight champion] AndersonSilva. I have the skill and the power and I’ll be ready to pursue it and becomea No. 1 contender when I hit my prime.”

Chattelle has been doing his homework, starting with watching film fromHoward’s previous fights, and continuing with a new workout regimen designed toimprove his conditioning.

“He’s well-rounded,” Chattelle said of Howard. “He’s not great at any onething, but he has a lot of heart and will fight until the end. He will last thewhole fight, so I have to be well-conditioned and take my conditioning to thenext level.

“I added new supplements, plus new training programs. I’m doing a lot ofprivate training with certain people to make sure I’m ready for this. I’mdoubling up on my workouts, morning and night.”

Chattelle, who previously worked 40 hours a week as a concrete finisher whiletraining for upcoming fights, was recently laid off from his job, which hasturned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“Now I can put everything into it, like a professional should, and see if Ihave what it takes to make it to this level,” he said. “I’m going real hardmorning and night. I hope he’s ready to bang, because I’m not afraid to bangwith anybody.”

“He’s the champion of CES, and I want to fight the champion,” Howard added.“This is a weird situation, because I really like him as a friend. He’s realdown-to-earth, real humble. He’s coming up in the world, but sometimes you’vegot to do what you’ve got to do. He hits real hard, and is really, reallypowerful, but he’s a raw talent. He’s got a lot to learn in this game.”

Chattelle is expecting a packed house at Twin River on April 13th. His phonehasn’t stopped ringing since CES announced the match-up at its previous show onFeb. 3rd.

“I’m usually doing all he calling, but this time, people are calling me,” hesaid.

“It’s pretty incredible. The fact of the matter is I never thought I’d be whereI am at this point.  When I started, I just wanted to try it out. I thinkit’s a good lesson; anything you do in life, if you believe in it and stickwith it, it’ll turn out well, even if things don’t always go as they should.”

Tickets for “Never Surrender” are $35.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and canbe purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at thePlayers Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doorsopen 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Never Surrender.” Anybody under theage of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the Westentrance).