This Saturday, UFC Vegas 48 tarts at 4 PM on the east coast, featuring two exciting Light Heavyweight contenders in Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill. Heavyweights Parker Porter and Alan Baudot will square off two fights before that main event. I had the chance to interview Porter ahead of this fight, and here are his responses.
Parker Porter (12-6 overall, 2-1 in the UFC) has the momentum of a two-fight winning streak coming into this fight. Following a difficult UFC debut that saw him get knocked out by Chris Daukaus, Porter has rebounded with wins over Josh Parisian and Chase Sherman. Porter"s cardio is a huge advantage for him, especially as a heavyweight, while his pressure poses a massive problem for all opponents.
Alan Baudot (8-2 1NC overall 0-1 1 NC in the UFC) is still searching for his first UFC win heading into Saturday. A training partner of Ciryl Gane, Baudot has had two face two difficult opponents in the UFC against Tom Aspinall and Rodrigo Nascimento, having gotten knocked out by both. (The Nascimento loss was later overturned to a no contest.) Baudot has one-punch power, but his cardio has failed him at times, and his best path to victory is to knock Porter out in the first round.
Danny Podolsky: First and foremost, how did this fight with Alan Baudot come together, especially since it"s on relatively short notice, and how has training been going?
Parker Porter: Training has been going really well. This fight has actually been put together for a bit longer than it"s been announced. For some reason, they took a little while to come out with the announcement of this fight. It"s not any particular fight that I picked, [Alan Baudot] was the next fight that the UFC offered me, and I didn"t want to refuse.
Podolsky: Does it make a difference taking a fight on short notice vs. getting a full camp to train for a fight?
Porter: My debut fight was on nine days" notice and right at the relative height of the pandemic, and I hadn"t been training at all when I got the call. At that time, I was 25 pounds overweight, which made a huge difference. However, I"ve been in camp for nearly two months for this fight, so I will be in much better shape.
Podolsky: Have you watched any of Alan Baudot"s previous fights, and is that a big part of how you train?
Porter: Yeah, I"ve watched a few of his fights; I don"t get too much into that stuff; I usually let my team, more or less, point out those details. From there, we formulate our game plan, and we"re prepared for what we expect to see.
Podolsky: Seeing as though you grew up playing several different sports, how did you eventually make the transition over to MMA?
Porter: I had no martial arts background whatsoever. I was just a guy who played all over the place. Football had been what I was most serious about playing. MMA was something I just fell into; I got into training to mix up my workouts after high school, and eventually, it became something I loved.
Podolsky: You"re from Hartford, CT, and you"ve fought in CES. We"ve seen a wealth of new New England talent, notably Calvin Kattar and Rob Font. What can you say about the growing scene of MMA in New England, and are you looking to become part of that next big crop?
Porter: It"s funny because it"s not really a growing scene to me. The scene has been here for a long time, but no one has really dipped into the talent quite as much as they could have. It"s nice to see these guys that I"ve known for a long time get their chances to shine on the big stage.
Podolsky: You have 4 KOs and 4 subs, a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. Would you consider yourself stronger on the ground or in the standup when looking at your game?
Porter: Yeah, I"m definitely a lot more well-rounded than many guys out there in my division. Not that they"re one-trick-ponies, but anybody over 200 pounds tends to feel like they will just smash you with their hands. I definitely think it gives me an advantage because of the fact that I"m comfortable anywhere in a fight. But if I had to pick one, I definitely gravitate towards my striking because it"s always been so natural to me. Again, I"m super comfortable on the ground as well, though.
Podolsky: Do you think you"re often overlooked in this division because you got knocked out quickly in your UFC debut?
Porter: Yeah, I definitely think many of these guys are sleeping on me. I"m not the prettiest guy to look at with my shirt off, and I got some extra belly fat on me, and I"m not the youngest guy in the division either. But because that fight with Chris Daukaus was on such short notice, I didn"t really have the chance to shine and show what I could do.
Podolsky: A little-known fact about you is that you actually fought Jon Jones all the way back in 2008. Are there any fun stories about what Jon was like as a 19-year-old, and what is it like for you to see the many different ways his career played out?
Porter: It"s a trip, and everybody always asks about that fight. It"s almost been sort of a claim to fame, and as far as that actual fight went, it was like his early fights, and it was over before it even started. He was just dominant the whole time. It"s definitely been cool to see how far he"s gone and how much he"s accomplished in such a relatively short amount of time.
Podolsky: If all goes well and you beat Alan Baudot, how active would you like to be in 2022, and could you see yourself in the top 15 by the end of the year?
Porter: I"m hoping so; that"s definitely the plan for me in 2022. I want to get that number out next to my name, and I"d like to be as active as possible. I"m always ready for the next fight as long as I"m healthy. I definitely would have been more active and had more than one fight in 2021 had it not been for catching COVID before the first time Chase [Sherman] and I were booked to fight. I want to get at least two or three fights in this year and be able to make a run.
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Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images