Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | 5:22 p.m.
During a span of five years and 33 professional fights, Kyacey Uscola was content to go half-speed in his mixed martial arts career.
It took one thing for him to change that: the expectations of his first-born child.
"With my son coming, my only child, I just got to get it done now," Uscola said.
Uscola is one of 14 fighters featured on the current season of "The Ultimate Fighter," all of whom are competing for a UFC contract. All things considered, he's not the type of guy who usually makes it onto the cast — a 28-year-old veteran with a 18-15 mark.
The reason the UFC and Spike TV might have been willing to take a case like Uscola's is that many consider him to be more than talented enough to compete at the highest level. He trains alongside former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber and has been inside the cage against the likes of Chael Sonnen and Gegard Mousasi.
The gray area about Uscola is his work ethic, as he openly admits he's never fully committed himself to the sport.
But with a baby on the way and his window of opportunity closing, Uscola saw this season of the reality series as his final shot to get the most out of his talent.
"I think for the UFC, with my record, this is probably the end of it if I don't get it done this time," said Uscola, who tried out for the show's fifth season, but was cut. "And as far as longevity in the sport, if I don't get it done with the UFC it's probably not getting done anywhere else.
"I want to retire fighting. That's always been my goal in life. But I need to get serious about it."
While Uscola's son — Charles Champ — can be credited for his new-found dedication to the sport, he also picked a bad time for a birthday.
When Uscola came to Las Vegas at the start of the show in January, he was forced to leave his pregnant girlfriend of seven years back home. Because of the usual restrictions of the TUF house, Uscola knew he wouldn't be there for the baby's delivery in February.
Though the birth of his first child is motivating, Uscola admitted that missing the event was weighing heavily on his mind from the first day of filming.
"Every time I think about it I can't get it off my mind," Uscola said during the first few days of shooting. "But it's all the greater good. It's driving me, but my mind doesn't rest. I can't sleep at night a lot of times — not even thinking about the baby but about everything."
Because of the baby's due date, Uscola almost didn't attend the show's tryouts.
He probably wouldn't have, had it not been for an open seat offered to him by some of his training partners who were making the trip.
"The crazy thing is I tried out for season five and didn't make it and ever since then I just went to Bodog and King of the Cage," Uscola said. "I had kind of gave up on the UFC, but then a couple guys from the gym were going down there who I always smash on and I was like, '(Expletive) man, you guys got another spot in the car?'"
Uscola nailed the tryouts and entered the house as one of the early favorites to come away the contract.
Although he said the tryouts were filled with the most talent of any season of the show, with 33 fights under his belt there was nothing he hadn't seen before.
"I don't think any of (the other cast members) will be gunning for me," Uscola said. "They know I can bang with any of them and I think they're all pretty worried about me. They all know who I was before this.
"I think they're gunning for me but at the same time they're thinking, 'I don't want to be the first (expletive) to fight him.'"