SpitballingPod Interviews Jesse 'JT Money' Taylor
Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing TUF: Redemption winner Jesse Taylor, otherwise known as 'JT Money'. We spoke in depth about his time on The Ultimate Fighter, his career so far, and plans for the future. You can listen to the interview in full via the player below, or read the transcript beneath the player. Enjoy.
Luke: Hi, it’s Luke.
JT: Hey Luke
Luke: How you doing?
JT: Yeah, I’m good.
Luke: Thanks for giving me some of your time, I do really appreciate it.
JT: For sure, no worries.
Luke: Just to kick us off, congrats on winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. How did it feel hearing Buffer announce your name in the finale, it was like you’d come completely full circle?
JT: It felt amazing, it felt like a dream. A dream come true
Luke: The show was named ‘Redemption’, did you feel that come the end of the series?
JT: Absolutely, I couldn’t have asked for a better redemption story. I feel like that’s why the show was made, this was too good to be true. It was a perfect story and it came to fruition. It was a really awesome feeling.
Luke: What’s the experience like as a whole, we’ve heard some other fighters talk about how it’s like nothing they’ve ever experienced – no phones, no tv, no family members around. Also, you can be fighting people who you’re sleeping next to the night before?
JT: Oh yeah, anyone will tell you – it’s like a social experiment. I had to do it twice! I never thought I’d come back; After the first time, I said ‘I’d never do that again’. It is tough fighting your friends, that’s the hardest part I think for me. You become close to people and then you have to fight them, however training-wise I quite liked it, as literally all you can do is train. It made me focus, and I was able to just do what I love. Some people can’t take it, they just can’t cope in those situations. I like it, I like fighting in the real world and on the show
Luke: What was it like being in the middle of the Cody and TJ rivalry? At times it looked like people were annoyed that they were taking the attention away from their fights, and at times it just looked like entertainment for you all.
JT: It felt like I was in the middle of a catfight. It was like a bunch of little girls fighting, it was just every day, all day; they were just at each other with non-stop drama. It was like being at a girls high school party. It was quite stressful.
Luke: So many of the former TUF winners have gone on to win titles within the UFC, is that the ultimate goal for you?
JT: Oh yeah, that’s definitely the goal. One fight at a time for sure, but I just wanna keep going and take this ride the whole way. That would be a real, real redemption story – I think I’ve already got it, but to go up there, compete and win a title; that would be the ultimate goal. That would be a total Cinderella story and that’s my goal – that’s why I’m still in this and I think I can do well, I think I can get to that title pretty soon hopefully.
Luke: Are you fighting Belal Muhammad next? Is that confirmed?
JT: Yeah, that’s confirmed. They announced it a couple of weeks ago, so I wish they’d talk more about it. I’ve started my camp already and as it gets closer I’ll start training harder and harder but I always kind of stay in shape.
Luke: Which card is it going on?
JT: UFC Sydney. I love Australia, I’ve fought down there about 8 times, I’ve been down there about 11 times, I’d stay down there and train sometimes. It’s been a while, I haven’t been down since 2013, so I’m excited man, I can’t wait to be competing in my home away from home.
Luke: That was the next thing I was going to ask, I was looking down your record and you’ve fought all over the world – was there anywhere in particular that stands out when you look back?
JT: The most fun place? It’s hard to say because the world just has so many cool places. I went to Russia and their fans are very intense, they weren’t quiet, but you can feel the tension in the arena like they wanna kill you. I’ve fought in some other crazy places – Argentina, Buenos Aires, Australia (one of my favourite places) and just to name one more, Ireland was definitely fun. I fought there (in Ireland) on New Year’s night and I fought on the card with Conor McGregor. He was well known over there, but not so much in America. He was the main event, and I was already pretty well known and he started talking a load of shit to me! I was thinking ‘who on earth is this little Irish guy talking a load of shit to me?’ I was fighting his teammate Chris Field. He went out there, he put on a show and he was really cool actually, he apologised and explained that he just does it before a fight to get pumped up and that he knew I was a big name. He looked good, and I told him ‘you’ve got something good going on here’, and what do you know, two years later he blew up, totally blew up. So that one was New Year’s Eve in Ireland, it was really funny; I saw like 20 fist fights on the street, it was just a fun time.
Luke: With Belal Muhammad, do you think your styles match up well? Do you know a lot about him?
JT: Yeah, I know he’s more of a kickboxer. I got lucky because while on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ show, the only thing you’re allowed to watch is the UFC when it comes on, so you can watch the fights; So I actually saw him fight then, so because he’s my weight, I was analysing and then I again ran into him at the performance centre, he had a fight the day after and I was in the finale. I’ve been eyeing him already, and now it turns out I’m fighting him, so I’m very confident. I know he’s a wrestler too, but I think my wrestling style is bigger and stronger. I definitely think I have a clear edge on the ground – I hear he’s good there too, but I’m a lot better there I think. I know he’s a good fighter, but I’m very confident and I wanna go there and make a statement. I wanna keep the story going and show I’m the real deal. I’ve been around the world fighting the best of the best and I’m just pumped for this fight.
Luke: Do you think the experiences you’ve had fighting all over the world, will now help you as you’re put in some tougher situations?
JT: Oh yeah, I definitely do, I think that fighting in all of these crazy places that I’ve fought – it’s funny, I just saw a clip from Russia, and I think that once you’ve fought in Russia and you’ve fought some of these crazy Russians then everything else is easy money, it’s easy to fight somewhere else. I’ve been in places where I’m totally the bad guy and everyone wants to kill me. It’s funny, if you look at my record – I forget who it was, I had beef with somebody a while ago and they said ‘Oh JT has to work his way up the ladder’ and I’m like ‘no, I don’t man, what the hell are you talking about?’, I’ve been fighting nothing but contenders and champions for the last ten years now. I fought way, way better guys ten years ago than these guys saying this. I’m fighting guys that are absolute killers, I’ve put the work in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to fight Belal Muhammad, but after I get rid of this guy then I definitely want a big fight. I’ve put in the work for the last ten years and I think I’m far more ready than these guys think.
Luke: Is it right that you train with Dan Henderson?
JT: Yeah, he was in my corner on the night I won my last fight. Nobody hits harder that Dan Henderson, I’ve not been hit harder by anyone for sure.
Luke: It’s funny you should say that, Rory from our team spoke with Sam Alvey recently and he said the exact same thing!
JT: Sam’s a great guy. I love seeing the Team Quest guys
Luke: You obviously won the cheque when you won the finale, have you done anything fun with the cash, or are you saving it for a rainy day?
JT: Nothing too huge, I’m a humble living guy anyway; I took my kids on a vacation for my sons baseball league tournament, and we had a little dad vacation. Then me and my girl went down to Mexico for a couple of days, nothing too crazy. I got myself some new sunglasses and that’s about it. I want to put some away for my kids and just save the rest and invest. I just want to make the most amount of money I can make for like the next seven years. It’s definitely nice, I don’t really have to worry as much about money right now, and it’s nice as I’ve always wanted that freedom. For me it’s the story that counts more.
Luke: Well, hopefully it all comes full circle for you and you can get that happy ending with the title. It could all make a great movie one day!
JT: I just want to make as much money as possible and then my goal is to do nothing. I just want to drive a bike around, hang out with my kids – I’ll probably still teach and train as I love that stuff. But, I just wanna hang out at the beach and be one of those dudes that can do nothing; I’ll just live off the money I’ve made and invested. My goal is to win the title, but then I wanna show that you can do whatever you want in the world, and if you want to do nothing, then you can do nothing.
Luke: Well thanks for giving me some of your time today, I do really appreciate it and good luck for the fight!
JT: Thanks bro.