I am feeling good, really good right now, like I am on top of the world. To have my fight turn out the way it did in my UFC debut is an incredible feeling. The whole night was a great experience for me. I was in such a trance that I didn’t even realize that Bruce Buffer pronounced my name wrong during the introductions. He apologized to me afterwards, but I didn’t care, I was just so pumped at that point. When I was leaving the cage after the fight I caught a glimpse of some of my students and their families from Greeneville. That just added to the high I was already feeling and made my night even better.
I felt very calm once the fight started and I felt as though Dan Stittgen felt really nervous almost like he didn’t know what to do. I think I may have had him confused because my stance is so much different than what most fighters are accustomed to dealing with. The average MMA guys have a boxer’s stance which makes it easier for a wrestler when they try and take you down. I tend to stand sideways and that gives them only one leg to shoot for, it tends to make it more difficult to try and take me down.
Having Georges St. Pierre walk out with me to my corner really helped me out. He doesn’t walk out with just anyone and I was like whoa, you’re going to walk out with me! He said he wanted to be there for me and I have to tell you that I felt honored; I thought that was really cool. I was a little nervous and excited at the same time to get started, and GSP came in and gave me some really good advice. As soon as I walked out there I knew what I was there to do and once the cage door closed I knew it was just me and my opponent. I didn’t hear anything or anyone else.
As far as the actual in ring action is concerned it took me awhile to get going. As I said before I train to block everyone out but my coaches. The combination that I landed to end the fight is called “The Money Maker” and it’s something I used a lot in kickboxing. I heard one of my coaches shout show me the money and I threw the combo and I didn’t realize I hit him until I heard a big pop and saw him go down. I kind of knew he was out, but I wanted to make sure so I went to finish him. Then I heard the ref instruct me to back off and I thought to myself, did that just really happen. There are really no words to describe the feeling that I had.
When I was in the back some of the other fighters and my manager were telling me that I could be in line for the Knockout of the Night, but at that point there was still so many fights left and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. At the end of the card they brought me back to the press conference and gave me a check and I was just in awe. Dana White
came up to me and said great fight, welcome to the UFC, we shook hands and I left. It was such an honor to be able to fight for the UFC and to be able to perform at such a high level. I am so happy that I was able to put on a good show for the fans as that’s always my goal.
My plans now are just to go back to my family’s gym and continue to teach classes and hang out with my students. I’ll do some light training for the week, but after that I’ll get back into training full time. I know there is a UFC card in Atlanta at the end of April. I’d love to fight on that card considering how close it is to my hometown. You never know when the UFC is going to call so I plan on being prepared at all times. No matter when or where I plan on making the most of the opportunities presented to me. I am so grateful for all of the love and support I have received from everyone; the past few weeks have been incredible.