LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Dakota Cochrane's controversial past is no secret in the MMA world.
Now the question becomes how his brief stint in gay porn will play out when the new season of "The Ultimate Fighter Live" debuts Friday night.
Dealing with his past is nothing new for Cochrane so he's ready for anything.
"Of course it bothers me," he said this week on the set of the reality TV show, which airs on FX Canada. "But I can’t do much about it. I’ve kind of dealt with it since college, since the first time it came out.
"It’s not anything new, it’s been around for six years and I’ve kind of had to deal with it over and over and over. Just another bridge I have to cross."
The 25-year-old Cochrane — who is not gay and has a one-year-old son with fiancee Lacey — says he earned nearly $80,000 from taping a series of gay videos while a college student at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he was a standout track athlete.
"I’m not going to try to hide it," he said. "If you type in on Google, it comes up pretty easy. It’s just something I’m going to overcome. Obviously it’s not something I would do again. If I were to redo it, there’s no way in hell I would redo it cause I know the repercussions that would come with it."
While there has been plenty of buzz about his past, especially on MMA message boards, Cochrane is determined to stand out for his fighting abilities on the first season of the revamped show.
"My ultimate goal is to be known as a fighter, known for what I’m doing now," said Cochrane. "The past is the past, I’m just trying to work for the future."
While Cochrane, who sports an 11-2 record, including an impressive victory over former WEC champion Jamie Varner, has been commended for being up front about his past, the issue will likely be a hot topic if the Nebraska native wins his first bout to become one of the 16 members to live in the TUF house.
So far, Cochrane says the talk on among the other 31 contestants on the set "has been positive.''
"I think first and foremost he has to win," said Urijah Faber, who along with UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, is a coach on the show. "But I can guarantee you the producers are begging and hoping that he does, because it for sure will be a subject that’s brought up.
"It’s a taboo thing to talk about especially in this profession. That’s a reality. You can’t shelter people from that. It’s going to be a topic, people are interested and people like to choose sides. Hopefully it will bring new fans to the sport, we’ll take it."
UFC president Dana White said Cochrane’s past is irrelevant and he deserves the same opportunity as any other UFC hopeful.
''Listen, the guy has a past," White said. "Who doesn’t? We all have pasts. He didn’t do anything illegal. When we do the screening process for these shows, we look for guys that have bad backgrounds, done things illegal or whatever, and it depends on what they’ve done. I’m a pretty forgiving person with people’s pasts."
Everyone makes mistakes, said White.
"Whether you like it or don’t like it is one thing, but there’s no reason that this kid shouldn’t be able to go for his dreams and make a living," said White.
While White has had issues with the gay community in the past, including using an anti-gay slur against a journalist on one of his video blogs, he said he isn’t sure how the gay community will react if Cochrane makes the show.
"If I was somebody in the gay community, I would think this was a good thing, not a bad thing," he said.
White says he doesn't know what the reaction to Cochrane will be if he earns a spot in the house.
"I don’t know what they’re going to say to him, but it’s reality," he said. "It’s a part of life. People deal with these kinds of things all the time, and I’m not afraid to take it head-on."
White added that Cochrane has to live with consequences of his actions.
"He’s got to handle himself in the real world," said White. "Dude is pretty tough."
Fellow Omaha native and hopeful cast member Drew Dober said the other contestants to focus soley on Cochrane’s fighting abilities.
"It’s something he’s had to live with and deal with for quite some time, so for him I think it’s just getting old," he said. "People just won’t let it go away. He’s doing a lot of things in the sport and I think people should just ignore that factor and look at Dakota as a fighter as and athlete.
"That should overshadow is past."