Later this summer, featherweight prospect Austin Arnett will get the opportunity to prove to UFC President Dana White, and matchmakers Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby, that he belongs in mixed martial art’s premier promotion.
That opportunity will come live and in-person, on August 1, when he competes on the yet-to-debut Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, which kicks-off on July 11. The Northwest native announced the news on his Facebook page last week, and spoke with the Throwin’ Elbows podcast ahead of traveling to Las Vegas to finalize the deal this week.
Arnett is fresh-off of his 13th consecutive victory, a second-round triangle submission on June 10th, improving his professional record to 16-2. The 25-year-old has been cleaning out the 145 and 155-pound divisions in the Northwest, and is finally getting the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
He heard the news from coach Rick Little, who leads one of the premier MMA gyms in the Northwest. The gym, Sik-Jitsu Fighting Systems, is located in Spokane, Washington, just a couple hours north of Arnett’s home gym in Lewiston, Idaho. Earning his black belt in karate as a youth, Arnett has been training with Little and the Sik-Jitsu crew for years, developing relationships with UFC veterans like Michael Chiesa and Sam Sicilia.
Now, he gets to perform under the UFC banner himself.
“Rick Little was handling most of the talks with the UFC and everything. So, I got a phone call from him telling me we got on,” Arnett said. “It was pretty exciting, I was with a couple friends hanging out, and we were all jacked up when we heard.”
The fight will come at Arnett’s preferred weight-class, featherweight, although he’s shown the ability to perform at a high-level at both 145 and 155-pounds throughout his career. He also knows his opponent, even though we don’t just yet. It will be the furthest Arnett has traveled for a fight, with his 18 professional fights coming in the Northwest region.
News regarding the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series will likely begin to trickle out a bit faster next week. Arnett, and likely others, are heading to Las Vegas in order to finalize medicals, as well as put together promotional packages for the bouts. After that, the real work starts.
Actually, it already has.
“I basically started camp today… First week I’ll be doing here in Lewiston, and then next week will be Vegas with Rick and my dad, and then I’ll come back and have four weeks for the fight,” Arnett said. “More than likely I’ll be up in Spokane for that whole month of July.”
While there’s no guarantee that a victory on August 1st will directly lead to a multi-fight contract with the sports biggest promotion, Arnett is confident that his style will show White, Maynard, and Shelby exactly why they should sign him.
“They want you to win, and perform at a high level, an exciting level,” Arnett said. “I’m not worried about that, because I know all of my fights will come out that way. So, it’s basically just getting the win, and I know everything else will fall into place.”
Before Arnett and his team turn their full focus to his August 1 bout on UFC Fight Pass, the Sik-Jitsu crew has another big bout that needs their attention. This Sunday, lightweight stand-out Michael Chiesa will main event UFC Oklahoma City against Kevin Lee.
“I was down there a week or so training with Mike and he’s looking awesome,” Arnett said. “His striking gets better everytime I spar with him… We all know about his wrestling and grappling, he’s choked out black belts… I don’t see any way he loses this fight, it’s just a great matchup and I think he’s going to put a whoopin’ down on Kevin Lee.”
One of the Northwest’s top prospects is getting his chance to shine this summer, and joins a long-list up-and-coming contenders getting a look from the UFC. We’re excited for the show, which will air live each Tuesday on UFC Fight Pass. If each week is going to be filled with guys like Austin Arnett, sign us up.