It may be on short-notice, but UFC newcomer Austin Arnett is ready for his promotional debut this weekend at UFC on FOX 27 in Charlotte, regardless of the circumstances.
The road to the UFC isn’t always as straight and narrow as those outside of the mixed martial arts world may think. A fighter can do all of the right things, and still fail to reach the ultimate goal of competing in MMA’s premier promotion. For Northwest-native Austin Arnett, who makes his UFC debut this Saturday in Charlotte, the call-up has been a long time coming. The featherweight prospect chatted with the Throwin’ Elbows podcast this week to discuss how the UFC on FOX 27 bout came to be, what his fight week prep will look like, and who will be in his corner for the biggest fight of his career to-date.
Chatting with Throwin’ Elbows/Cageside’s Heath Harshman, Arnett spoke of what a fantastic feeling getting to the big show is. “It’s awesome man. It’s just everything that I’ve been training for and working for since I was a kid” he said. “I always knew that this was what I wanted to do, I always knew I would get here eventually. And now it’s about performing at the level I know I can, and staying around for a long time. Not just getting here, but making a statement and staying here.”
UFC Charlottle goes down this Saturday, January 27. So how did the deal get done with so little time to spare? Arnett told the show that “I’ve been getting a little bit of feelers, my manager’s been trying to get me on a couple of other short notice fights. I thought actually a couple of them were going to go through. They didn’t, so I just kept on pushing and training” for another upcoming bout. Then “this came up. My manager called me, said they’re looking to add one more fight to that card. So he asked honestly if I could make weight, I said ‘hell yeah, I always make weight.'” When asked, Arnett of course took the opportunity.
“They got an opponent, the first guy, Juan Archuleta I think is who it was, he turned it down, he didn’t want the fight” Arnett continued. His manager then relayed that “‘Sean [Shelby] said he’s going to get you somebody else.’ So I just sat back for literally six hours, Cory Sandhagen fought on LFA that night — this was all happening on Friday. Cory Sandhagen fights that Friday night, soon as his fight’s over, I get a text from my manager, Daniel Rubenstein, and he says ‘Yeah we got you a fight, Cory Sandhagen.’ I said ‘Perfect!’ Didn’t know who he was, didn’t care, I was ready to go!”
Comparing it to his appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Arnett said that while the feeling is similar, “it’s nice to be actually in the UFC fighting in front of their crowd, being at a real event.”
He’s still “focused on just winning the fight” he said. Later adding “Cory Sandhagen is basically all I’m thinking about, all I’m focused on.”
Arnett was halfway through an eight week fight camp when he got the short notice call. He admitted that “it’s gonna be a tough weight cut, but that’s fine with me. I’m going to embrace that.” The good news is, he stays in shape at all times. Plus, he was already training for a fight.
Taking the fight at 145lbs on such short notice seems like a daunting task. Arnett pointed out, however, that “I train with Mike Chiesa, who is a freakin’ monster lightweight. So I know how big those guys are and what the size difference can be from lightweight to featherweight. I’ve always known that featherweight was going to be my weight class in the UFC. It’s always where I planned on getting to fight.”
Arnett added, however, that “I would have taken one at lightweight, to be honest with you too, if it came up short notice. But featherweight’s where I want to be.”
On UFC on FOX 27 opponent Sandhagen, Arnett said “he’s good man, he’s a good striker. Lots of movement, in and out, likes to throw a lot of leg kicks. Kind of pot-shot you, quick little punches. He’s got good jiu-jitsu, decent wrestling.” However, Arnett and his coaches feel they have the right game plan for success.
Check out the full interview with UFC on FOX 27’s Austin Arnett appearing on Throwin’ Elbows below!