Chance Rencountre silenced a lot of doubters and experts this past Saturday night.
During the preliminary card of UFC 239, “Black Eagle”, coming in as one of the biggest underdogs on the card, picked up a unanimous decision victory over Ismail Naurdiev, making it back-to-back wins inside of the Octagon.
The 32-year-old Rencountre made his UFC debut on short notice at UFC Fight Night 131 a little over a year ago when he took on Belal Muhammad. Rencountre was able to hang in there with Muhammad, but ultimately lost a unanimous decision in a fight he took on less than two weeks notice. It was a learning experience for Rencountre and, since then, he has focused on training full time. That has been the biggest difference from the fighter we saw in Utica, NY in June 2018, to the fighter we are currently seeing before our eyes.
“It’s just time, it’s putting in the time,” Rencountre told The Body Lock. “It’s being able to work out and train full time. It’s been a blessing for sure, and that comes with sacrifice, of course. At this point, I’m ready to make a couple more sacrifices to see where I can take this because it truly does matter. I’ve been in this game for seven years now. Everything has been an investment. It feels good to finally cash some checks and, hopefully, we can keep cashing them.”
The betting odds were clearly not favoring Rencountre, with certain sites positioning the Alliance MMA trained fighter as high as a +455 underdog heading in. Rencountre doesn’t pay attention to the gambling noise too much heading in but was happy that the people close to him were able to cash in on his performance.
“I knew I was an underdog, I didn’t know how much it was,” Rencountre said. “I wasn’t paying attention to that really. I don’t know, all of my family got paid so that’s a good thing.”
Weathering the storm
Naurdiev opened a lot of eyes in February when he made his UFC debut against highly touted prospect, Michel Prazeres at UFC Fight Night 145. “The Austrian Wonderboy”, a sizable underdog in his own right heading into that fight, went on to defeat Prazeres in a pretty lopsided affair en route to a unanimous decision win.
With a strong and explosive striking game backing Naurdiev, Rencountre, along with his head coach Eric Del Fierro, knew that patience would play a huge factor in the fight at UFC 239.
“His kickboxing was good, but we knew he would slow down in the later rounds,” Rencountre explained. “I’m working with the best coaches in the world and Coach Del Fierro was like, ‘He’ll sprint, and he’ll sprint hard. So we just go to weather that storm.’ Eventually with my wrestling, we knew we would slow him down.
“I want to say after the first round, I looked across the cage and I could see he was still breathing pretty heavy. I could really tell in the third round — after a couple of scrambles — it was really obvious at that point in time that we had him pretty broke. He said something, and I can’t remember what he said, but he cussed something. It was in English, but I took him down one time and he was more discouraged in himself. He knew it was inevitable at that point, I can’t say what he was thinking, of course. But it played out for sure.”
When it comes to taking on an aggressive and dynamic striker such as Naurdiev, fighters around the world will look to expand their horizons, so to speak: whether it be mixing up training partners, flying in a new training partner or two to mimic the opponent’s style, or just re-writing the playbook. Rencountre didn’t do any of those things. There was no need to. Coming off of his UFC debut win over Kyle Stewart in Brooklyn, an opening round submission win over Kyle Stewart at UFC Fight Night 143, Rencountre and his team knew they had everything they needed to get ready for the fight inside of the familiarity of Alliance MMA.
“We really didn’t have any one flying in or anything of that nature. We just worked with the guys in the gym, my teammates we always spar with,” Rencountre said.
“It wasn’t a big change up because we knew my wrestling was going to play out. I’m kind of a dark horse when it comes to the wrestling. I didn’t do so well in college but I feel like I can compete with the best. We knew he was tired, that he would sprint, that we would get him down and sticking to the game plan was going to play out in my favor.”
Climbing the welterweight divisional ladder
With a huge win during the UFC’s annual International Fight Week card, Rencountre’s stock has certainly grown. More often than not, Rencountre has been operating on a six to seven month booking schedule between fights. Accompanying his desire to compete is a bit of momentum Rencountre carries in one of the deepest divisions in the UFC following the win over Naurdiev at UFC 239. Sprinkle in the constant improvement and evolution in his game, Rencountre is not looking to sit on the sidelines for very long.
“I’d love to get back in there sooner,” Rencountre said. “I wanted some time out in California to train and I’ll get right back to work as soon as I fly back out. I wanted a little bit of time to get better, work on my craft, because I knew I was way behind knowledge wise. I know I’m athletic and have always been a tough kid, but I’m behind on the learning curve. I knew that being out there full time is going to change the world for my game.”
If you are reading this article in hopes to see Chance Rencountre make an epic callout, you certainly aren’t going to find that here. That’s not his style. Rencountre is 100-percent happy to let his work in the hallowed Octagon do the talking for him. When it comes to future opponents, The 17-fight veteran is willing and able to play the game of “line ’em up.”
“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Rencountre stated. “I’m not going to start shouting out any names or anything like that. It’s not my style. I do want to get back in there soon. I’m ready. I do want to get back in there soon. Hopefully, they find someone, or maybe… I don’t hope that for anybody, but maybe a short notice fight will pop up. You never know. This game is crazy.”