TUF 16 Fighter Blog: James Chaney Opens Up About the Bite Felt Round the World

November 3, 2012
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Following one of the most controversial moments in Ultimate Fighter history, James Chaney opens up and talks about biting Jon Manley during their fight that aired Friday night.

I felt like I could take on the world! I felt strong, I felt mean, I was focused. The coaches had made a monster, regardless of the outcome I was in many ways that day greater than I had ever been. Loren Landow taught me so much about my body and my diet. Gifted with a measure of natural cardio, obscenely busy with work, and frankly ignorant I’ve never incorporated a great deal of strength and conditioning into my workout and my diet was awful. I learned what an error this was and I’m a much wiser, healthier person. He even helped me partially fix an old, agonizingly painful injury that effects me in everyday life.

Trevor Wittman instilled technique and confidence in me, I learned so much so fast and had so much fun doing it. Shane Carwin is a person I look up to, I admire his character, and I hope to emulate his success and care for and help people the way he does. Pat Barry is a friend, we always talked about the mental side of fighting, about instinct, nature, and philosophy. Leister Bowling taught me wrestling concepts and gave me a valuable, different perspective on MMA wrestling. Nate Marquardt is a fighter with a skillset and physicality to aspire towards and he scheduled our training really effectively. I came onto the show with almost no preparation.

My car was broken down, I had to walk to work everyday, I had little time to do a very limited amount of training. I won the fight onto the show on the strength of experience, sprinting in a dirty back alley, ground and pound bag, push ups, sit ups, and shadowboxing all completely solo.

Naturally I had some concerns coming onto the show, that having been said I am without excuse. So impressive were the coaches, facility, training partners, and circumstances in general that I know that physically I was better than I’ve ever been and save for my grappling my overall MMA game has never been so sharp! All of that together more than made up for my training handicap going onto the show.

I’m eternally grateful to the UFC, the show’s staff, and everyone from Team Carwin for being a part of this experience. Many fighters really didn’t like the experience, I can honestly say it was one of the finer experiences of my adult life and I was sad to see it end.

Come fight announcement I was slated to face my friend Jon Manley. We weren’t so close that there was a serious emotional conflict fighting one another, but we get along well and had hung out before the show a few times. Going into the fight I knew it was a hard match up, 100% of my fights have been submission finishes in the first and second round.

Manley was two belts higher than me at jiu-jitsu, durable, and capable in all capacities of the fight. This is what I had gathered on the strength of hearsay and from his fight against a very tough opponent in Ricky Legere. The strategy going into the fight was vague, as details on Manley were very limited. They told me I’m one of the few they don’t mind on the bottom and beyond that we were to strike with him long enough to make an assesment and adjust.

Warming up I felt so confident, I went through my pre-fight rituals. Dana peaked his head in briefly to remind me to earn that money, alluding to our previous interaction after the fight into the house. I entered the cage focused. I immediately began striking aggressively and to my surprise I felt good doing so. We had a few good exchanges, I’m told I hurt him with an uppercut.

The exchange that ultimately led to me going to the ground is a blur. I know I ended up pulling guard. I quickly moved to a triangle, I held tight as he lifted me to the cage. I could’ve sworn this was my finish, but Jon Manley refused to die, I attempted feebly to transition to an armbar and was quickly passed, mounted, and stuck in a hellacious guilotine. I never saw it coming. I spat out my mouthpiece to breathe and buy me time. I fought the choke the best I could , but he had extended me out, locked up a grip I couldn’t fight, and tightened up the choke.

I was desperate and in that moment I did the only thing I can think of. I bit Jon, I was hoping it would do something, anything to get me out of the choke and back in the fight. Had I any clarity of mind obviously I would realize that what I did was not only completely despicable, but unlikely to help my case.

I’ve never cheated in a fight before, but the stakes were so high and I so desperately wanted not only to win the fight, but to have some means to improve my own life that I resorted to something I never would’ve believed I’d do.

I’m back home now still breaking my back working a job that pays nothing, living on a mattress on the floor of my best friends garage, I’ve lived and still live like animal to fulfill this dream and one day have the means to help the people I care about and create a better life for myself with fighting. I failed them, I failed myself, and I brought disgrace to everyone I represent.

In retrospect it’s so obvious I should never have done what I did, but in the heat of battle, certain victory changing to sudden defeat, with the animal mentality I bring into the cage, I did a really ugly thing. It goes without saying I would never do it again, but what’s done is done.

To the UFC, the fans who support me, Jon Manley, and all of the people on all of the people I represent I’m truely sorry. I was given an unbelievable opportunity and I blew it above and beyond what I even thought possible.

  • Hannibal

    Nom nom nom

  • TW

    You can apologize for that, and it’s good that you did, but I would not be surprised if that marks the end of any chance you might have had at a career as a pro MMA fighter. Do you think you are the first guy who ever found himself losing a fight he couldn’t bare to lose? That’s no excuse at all. If you had slipped a straight razor out of your glove and slit his jugular would you make the same lame excuse afterward? Let me rewrite your apology for you. “What I did was completely unexplainable and inexcusable. I am clearly not mentally strong enough for the fight game. That was my last fight. You will never see me again.”

    • humby49

      he will fight again, and again, and again after that. You however have not and never will…

      • TW

        Yeah, maybe he can work on his biting technique with Mike Tyson. Are you the guy whose garage he is sleeping in? Pipe down, you little tool. This is not something noble to defend.

        • Roy Nelson

          are you a retard?

          • TW

            Are you Roy Nelson? If so, then yeah I am a retard. Retard,

        • Triggerman99

          Are you serious? You get to throw your judgement out anywhere you want and everyone is just supposed to accept it, but when someone else does it, they’re a tool?
          You chastising this guy’s morality for biting someone is comical.

    • Milosc

      The man isn’t dead. He still has time to learn and make amends

      You can’t simply condemn people for the rest of their lives over a mistake. He didn’t kill anyone, and we are all here for a reason

      I’d watch what I say if I were you. How you judge, is how you are ultimately judged. Life ends up fair

    • Joo

      the guy thought he was on TUB The Ultimate Biter LOL

  • Bite my shiny metal ass!

  • BrotherEDEN

    James.., I think you did what came ‘naturally’ admitting here that you were desperate and absolutely wanted (needed) to win. I hope you’ve found more support for continuing your career than obstacles against you. Let us know if you need anything.., or how we can support you to move forward with your career and life.


  • El Gvapo

    I saw the headlines to the episode review and the supposed controversy before I watched the episode itself and I expected to see more of a furore than there was. It seemed like it was brushed over at the end of the episode, not mentioned nearly as much as I thought it might be. Also, has he left the house then? Sounds like it from this blog. Shame really, I liked the guy, he wasn’t the stereotypical meathead you usually get in there.