MMA veteran fights Chris Clements seeking first UFC win
When it comes to Keith Wisniewski, “even-keel” is an understatement. The veteran fighter never seems to get too up, never too down. For Wisniewski, it’s just all business.
That’s why he can go into his Saturday fight at UFC 145 against Chris Clements knowing full well his job might be on the line and shrug it off. For the veteran of more than 40 pro fights, a win will keep him around. But a loss might send him packing. Either way, “The Polish Connection” is going to fight the same every time out.
“For me, whether it’s the UFC or a small bar show, it’s still just a day in the office,” Wisniewski said. You’ve just got to go in there and do your job.”
Wisniewski (28-13-1, 0-2 UFC), whose entire career has been spent at the Duneland Vale Tudo gym in Northwest Indiana that he started with his brother, did his job to the tune of six straight wins on the regional circuit before getting a long-awaited return call from the UFC last year. He made his debut with the promotion at UFC 56 in Las Vegas, but lost a decision to Nick Thompson in a one-and-done fight.
That was November 2005, and Wisniewski won’t lie. He’s thought about what it will feel like to have his hand raised and hear Bruce Buffer announcing him as the winner a few times since then.
“I’m definitely guilty of letting my mind wander (thinking about it),” Wisniewski said. But really, that’s about as excited as he gets.
When his call-back came last year, he was matched up with Josh Neer, who also was making a return after a run away from the big show. And after two bloody rounds, Wisniewski was told by the doctor at UFC on Versus 6 that his cuts were too bad to continue.
Looking back on it, Wisniewski said he made the call to get in tight against Neer and work in the clinch, and it didn’t work out.
“I think I dictated that strategy (against Neer),” Wisniewski said. “I got cut up, and it maybe wasn’t effective. But I think I forced that strategy more than Neer did. I’m guessing this guy will be less inclined to do that dirty boxing and more punch on the outside.”
Clements (10-4) is making his UFC debut on the strength of a perfect record when it comes to finishes. All 10 of his wins have been knockouts or TKOs. Wisniewski said he knows that’s where the danger lies with his opponent, but that doesn’t mean he thinks he’ll need to force the fight to the ground.
“I’m not going into this fight going, ‘I’ve got to get the takedown,’” Wisniewsk said “I’m going to try to win the standup. If the takedown is there, I’m going to try to take it. If a submission is there, I’ll take it. I’m going to try to win every area of the fight.”
Wisniewski got a much-needed reprieve earlier this year when the UFC moved basically the entire UFC 145 card from a March 24 date in Montreal to Saturday in Atlanta. It gave him an extra month to lock down a few nagging bumps and bruises to have a healthy camp.
But at Duneland Vale Tudo, Wisniewski also believes he’s about to benefit from a fairly monumental time at the camp. In March, Josh Shockley picked up his second straight win for Bellator. Wisniewski fights on Saturday. Two up-and-coming DVT fighters, Jeff Green and Dustin Pape, have fights in less than a month. Shockley is expected to go again for Bellator on May 25 with Wisiniewski in his corner, and he’ll then fly to Las Vegas to help corner UFC featherweight Darren Elkins against Diego Brandao on May 26. In June, former bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland, a DVT regular fights Scott Jorgensen in Florida.
“We’re swamped the next month, and to me that’s a good thing,” Wisniewski said. “When everyone’s gearing up for a fight together, you get no droughts in the gym. The gym’s about as intense as it’s ever going to be right now.”
And for Wisniewski, that’s just business as usual.
Wisniewski and Clements fight on the preliminary card of UFC 145 on Saturday. The fight will be part of a two-fight prelims live stream on the UFC’s Facebook page starting at 7 p.m. Eastern. At 8 p.m., FX airs four live prelims that lead in to the 10 p.m. pay-per-view, which features six live fights.