The first four years of Chas Skelly’s career were what any aspiring mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter dreams of. He compiled a perfect (11-0) record, picking up two wins in Bellator MMA in the process, earning an eventual call from UFC to join its Featherweight division. Things seemed to have nowhere to go but up. “Octagon jitters” may have caught up to him, though, as Skelly lost a close majority decision in his Octagon debut; however, “The Scrapper” bounced back to win six of his next eight fights.
“It took a little longer than expected to recover. I actually had more than one injury. I had injuries that were injuries previously before the (Knight) fight, and then I also had the surgery on my arm. I’m just getting back to training now.”
That’s good news for fight fans as Skelly is a fan favorite at 145 pounds (especially in his native Texas) and he attributes it all to his “scrappy” attitude inside the cage.
“I think it’s just (my) mentality. I just hate to lose. I think for me it’s just the way I grew up, kinda, since I started as a kid. Our whole family, we’ve always been a wrestling family. I grew up with older brothers and cousins beating on me all the time. It’s just a matter of mentality, you just got to get out there and get it done. I hate to lose really more than anything.”
Skelly currently holds two UFC records — fastest submission at Featherweight and fastest consecutive wins (just 13 days apart at UFC Fight Night 49 and UFC Fight Night 50). He also earned a “Performance of the Night” bonus for the first of those two fights, but admits a two-week turn around was difficult.
“I think as far as the two wins in 13 days it’s kinda grittiness more than anything. The hardest part about that was just the weight cut. You know I’m a big Featherweight, so when they called me for the second fight, obviously there was no way I’m gonna turn that down. Two paychecks for one fight camp, I mean, I’d be an idiot to turn that down. I knew it was going to be tough going in because of the weight cut.”
Diet and training was part of the reason for this interview. Skelly took part in an experiment comparing whey protein to rice protein involving 11 MMA fighters and talked to me about his interest in the study.
“Everybody needs that extra protein in their diet when you’re working as hard as we are. It’s just that for me my body wasn’t digesting the whey protein as well as it does the plant-based rice protein. I was having a hard time. I just felt like something was always messed up during the camps. My body just digests the rice protein better so I’m able to get more out of my workouts.”
Ironically, Skelly was part of the control group that got the whey protein instead of the rice protein, so it wasn’t until after the study that he was able to really benefit from the results.
“Basically, what it was was half the guys were taking the whey protein and half the guys were taking the rice protein, and then we were basically taking the same amount of protein and doing the same workouts and they were just comparing how it affects our body and how our body composition changes during the camp. The truth of the matter is I was part of the whey protein group. It wasn’t until after the study that I started taking the rice protein, just because I wanted to try it more than anything, and then I realized that it actually worked a lot better for me.”
Two things to note — only so much data can be extrapolated from such a small sample size, and Skelly’s own digestive issues with whey protein could actually make him an outlier to the group. Skelly himself notes they didn’t actually prove rice protein was better … just interchangeable.
“What they saw (in the study) was that they were very comparable. The whey protein and the rice protein basically have close to the same, pretty much the exact same results. In the past people though that the rice protein wouldn’t break down as well, or couldn’t do as well under the strenuous workouts that we go through. The study showed that actually it works just as well.”
In Skelly’s own case, seeing the results made it easy for him to make the switch.
“For people like me (though) there’s a huge benefit for the rice protein because the whey proteins are just tough on the stomach. A lot of people, it’s not just me, there’s a huge amount of people out there … their bodies just can’t handle it. It messes up their stomach really bad.”
Unfortunately, at this exact moment Skelly doesn’t have an opponent scheduled who he can test out the benefits of using rice protein against, and he seems a little frustrated about it.
“They (UFC) haven’t given me an opponent, I just uh … I’m just training. I’ve asked a couple of times about possibly getting something at the end of the summer, but Sean Shelby hasn’t given me anything. He said ‘Just be ready.’ He hasn’t given me a date and a place and an opponent. I’m sure it’ll be here at the end of the summer. Hopefully, the Dallas card. They’re supposed to go back to Dallas — September 8th possibly. It’d be nice to get on that (and) fight at home.”
Dallas, Texas, has been hinted at for UFC 228, but as of yet nothing is official. In the meantime, Skelly plans to keep busting his butt and has his eye on the Top 15 of the Featherweight division.
“You know I’ve been watching Cub (Swanson) for a long time, and (I) really respect his game. He’s a super nice guy, too. I’d love to get in there with him for sure. As far as the ‘Korean Zombie’ I’ve had people ask if I could possibly fight him — I mean yeah! All those guys would be great match-ups, I feel like favorable match-ups for me, too. I feel like my wrestling and grappling are a little better than all those guys so I’d have a little bit of an advantage there, you know?”
Keep your eye out for Chas Skelly on a UFC fight card — hopefully sometime in the very near future.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of all things MMA resides right here at MMA Mania.