UFC: Welcome to the 29th season of The Ultimate Fighter! As the youngest contestant in the series, what does it mean to have this opportunity at this point in your career?
Hiestand: I’ve been thinking about it since I was 14 when I first started training. Honestly, this is a dream come true. I am so excited to be here.
UFC: Why is it so important to be in The Ultimate Fighter?
Hiestand: This is probably the best way to get your foot in the door with the UFC because not only can you fight on such a big stage, but you get that publicity. Anyone can see you, make that connection, know about your life and stuff like that. You can create your own image and I think it’s huge.
UFC: What are you doing in the Octagon that makes you a force to be reckoned with?
Hiestand: I like to fight and just push the pressure and stay on the guy. For the past two years, I have attended a great camp and also worked on my strike. Everything is pressure. I like it to move, to keep it going, and I have good cardio. I can go there for days. I like the pressure.
UFC: Do you think people underestimate you because of your age?
Hiestand: I think people are looking at me because I’m 22 like, “That kid couldn’t do that much.” I have been training for a long time and I have worked a lot. I train all year round and I don’t take a break.
UFC: Why do you think you’ll be the Ultimate Fighter?
Hiestand: There’s nothing I can’t do if I think about it and make up my mind to win this series and become The Ultimate Fighter. I believe in myself more than I have ever believed in myself before.
Be sure to tune in to Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter, which premieres live on ESPN + on June 1 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.