Chuck O’Neil’s story, however, starts long before the start of Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Born in 1985 in Bourne, Massachusetts, a community near Cape Cod, O’Neil was an active child engaged in several recreational sports. Although interested in wrestling, the Bourne High School didn’t even offer the sport so O’Neil was unable to train in this discipline, a crucial part of any MMA program. Interested in nutrition, strength training, and conditioning, O’Neil graduated high school, enrolled in the exercise science program first at Cape Cod Community College and then on to nearby Bridgewater State. O’Neil earned his degree but realized he needed to follow his dream. At nineteen, after watching the first episode of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, O’Neil knew he wanted to be on the show and be an MMA fighter. Always a doer, he not only “talked the talk” but “walked the walk” and began training in earnest. For most teenagers, the task would have been too daunting to follow through, but that was never a problem for O’Neil. Once his mind is set, he doesn’t rest until the goal is met. An MMA career was launched in earnest from that point forward.
It was a close friend who gave O’Neil his moniker “Cold Steel”, a reference to his fighting style and “powerful punch”. O’Neil explained, “I like to throw the first punch and take control of the fight”. In fact, before he goes into the cage O’Neil makes sure to play the entire fight he’s about to enter in his head over and over again. By doing this he feels there are “no surprises”. O’Neil comes out strong and is relentless until the fight is over and he is the victor. The first fight O’Neil entered was a disappointing loss for him and showed the gym he trained in that perhaps he was not ready. O’Neil recalled that he came into the cage a bit too early in his training. This loss slowed his momentum and forced O’Neil to reconfigure his fight plan. Displeased with his performance, O’Neil laid low, continued to train, and resolved to dedicate himself to winning. His training picked up, his work ethic became stauncher, and the wins began. O’Neil supplied that it took four fights before he completely committed to his fighting career. Once he wrapped his brain around fixing his fight style and strengthening his resolve to win, the wins began to happen. When asked what O’Neil’s strength in the cage is he offers up, “good conditioning and I’m well-rounded”. O’Neil continued by stating, “In fights I’m not worried what they’re going to do, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do. I like to set the tempo.”
Early in his career, after his first loss, an opportunity arose for O’Neil to take a charity fight against a 40-year-old private investigator named Mark Chauppetta who was training and stepping into the cage to raise money and awareness for his twin sons’ Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It was a charitable fight that brought exposure to both fighters and DMD. When asked if he was concerned about the fight O’Neil replied that he had reservations because he wasn’t at peak condition; he had gotten the call to fight about nineteen hours before the event and was chowing down on pizza and training only two times per week! Within a few short hours O’Neil lost the excess weight for weigh in and formulated a fight plan. It paid off and O’Neil earned his first win. Along the way O’Neil’s career shaped up nicely. In addition to his MMA life, O’Neil continued to work as a personal trainer and feels helping the “general population” is always going to be a part of his life. With a record of 8-3-0, a charismatic personality, and a no-fail attitude, it wasn’t long before O’Neil began to realize his teenage dream.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2010 and Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil was commanding attention of the producers of the Spike reality program The Ultimate Fighter Season 13. By the premiere of the show this winter, O’Neil was bursting to share the news of his being cast! Finally he was able to broadcast the news at a viewing party in his favorite haunt The Charlie Horse in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where O’Neil has been throwing similar events ever since. O’Neil gushes about the experience he is having on The Ultimate Fighter Season 13. When asked about some of his cast mates he responds, “Charlie (Rader) and I are like brothers. Zach is one of my favorite guys. When the show progressed I realized, ‘I’m going to have to fight Zach, this sucks!’” It’s obvious these guys’ friendships will long outlast the show, as O’Neil is just that way, loyal, staunch, passionate, and unaccustomed to loss. O’Neil is characteristically gracious and loyal to those who have supported him. He enthusiastically named the following for standing by him and helping him: Scivation Vitamins/Supplements, Impact Fighter for his clothing, and training partner Jimmy Quinlan. In addition, O’Neil wanted to shout out to the gyms he trains in, Sityodtong Boston, South Shore Sport Fighting, Gracie Barra, NH and Mass BJJ.
O’Neil won’t be denied nor turned away. Once he makes up his mind he wants something, he goes after it whole hog and won’t rest until he attains it. Whatever the outcome of Season 13 The Ultimate Fighter, Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil will forever more be a household name. Upon parting, when asked what his long-term goal was, O’Neil responded without hesitation, “to be UFC champion”. I have no doubt he’ll do it.
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