UFC: Welcome to the 29th season of The Ultimate Fighter! As the youngest contestant on the show, what does it mean to have this opportunity at this point in your career?
Hiestand: I’ve been thinking about this since I was 14 years old when I started training. Honestly, it’s a dream come true. I’m so excited to be here.
UFC: Why is it such a big deal to be on The Ultimate Fighter?
Hiestand: This is probably the best way to get your foot in the door with the UFC because not only do you get to fight on such a big stage, but you get that publicity. Everyone gets to see you, create that connection, get to know your life and stuff like that. You get to create your own image and I think that is huge.
UFC: What do you do in the Octagon that makes you a force to be reckoned with?
Hiestand: I love to grapple and to just push the pressure and stay on the guy. In the last two years I have been at a great camp, and I’ve been working on my striking, as well. Everything is pressure. I like to keep it moving, keep it going, and I’ve got good cardio. I can go for days. I like the pressure.
UFC: Do you think people underestimate you because of your age?
Hiestand: I think people look at me because I’m 22 years old like, ‘This kid hasn’t been able to do as much.’ I’ve been training for a long time, and I’ve put a lot of work in. I train year-round and I don’t take breaks.
UFC: Why do you think you’ll be The Ultimate Fighter?
Hiestand: There is nothing that I can’t do if I set my mind to it and I’ve set my mind to winning this show and becoming The Ultimate Fighter. I believe in myself more than I’ve ever believed in myself before.
Make sure you tune in to season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter, which airs live on ESPN+ on June 1st at 9pm ET / 6pm PT.