Olivier Aubin-Mercier was expected to face Gilbert Burns at UFC Orlando. Then Burns arrived in Florida well above the lightweight limit, and doctors shut his weight cutting efforts down. That left ‘OAM’ in a sort of limbo — something he discussed this week with Cageside Press.
Canadian lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2) was anticipating a scrap with notable BJJ expert Gilbert Burns at UFC on FOX 28 just a few weeks ago. Yet when Burns arrived in Orlando, he was heavy. Very heavy. At 186lb by all accounts, Burns was a full thirty pounds over the non-title fight limit for lightweight. The promotion, alongside the Florida Commission (part of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation in the state), pulled the plug on the fight.
It’s probably one of the most frustrating scenarios a fighter can go through. A fight pulled last minute, through no fault of their own. Aubin-Mercier had expected a fight that could potentially break him into the top fifteen in the deep waters of the UFC’s 155lb division. Instead, after flying out to Orlando, and enduring the expenses of a training camp, he pretty much got a trip to Florida.
‘OAM’ had been set to chat with Cageside Press just prior to the fight. Instead, we reconvened a few weeks later, to reflect on what happened, and what’s to come for the talented ‘Quebec Kid.’
The news that the Burns fight was off, from Olivier Aubin-Mercier’s side, came via a phone call from his agent. It came “the night I arrived in Orlando, so on Tuesday.”
“He called me just when we were going to Whole Foods,” ‘OAM’ explained, “and told me that the fight was cancelled. So at Whole Foods I was looking at all the vegetables I was supposed to eat. I said ‘f*** this, I’m going to eat a burger!'” And who could blame him?
The real surprise was that the UFC never offered the fight at a catchweight. It was something that Aubin-Mercier, still in shock at his opponent pulling out, didn’t even think of initially. “I didn’t talk to any UFC representatives, I just talked to my manager,” he said. “So all this time, I was really shocked, and didn’t really think about it. But the day after, we thought it was kind of weird that they didn’t ask me [to fight at] a catchweight.”
“If his next fight is at 155, everything is kind of for nothing.”
No fight generally means no pay, which for UFC fighters, treated as independent contractors by the promotion, puts an incredible strain on their resources. Luckily, the promotion did try to make it right. “They compensated a little bit,” the Canadian lightweight revealed. “I hope I’m going to get booked really soon. It was not the best compensation — I will need money soon.”
Yet despite being thirty pounds over the lightweight limit, it was Burns, not Olivier Aubin-Mercier, getting booked in a new contest first. Instead of Aubin-Mercier, Burns will now face Lando Vannata at UFC Glendale.
“I was surprised that he was booked before me,” Aubin-Mercier told us about the pairing. “I’m a little bit shocked, to tell you the truth. Especially at 155. I understood what they did, to cancel the fight since he was too big.” What he doesn’t understand is Burns sticking around the weight class after missing the mark so badly in Orlando. “If his next fight is at 155, everything is kind of for nothing.”
“I was surprised, a little bit shocked,” he added. “I’m still waiting for my call to get a fight. So I hope I’m going to receive it pretty soon.”
When that call does come, ‘The Quebec Kid’ has a name or two in mind. “I would like to fight Teymur. David Teymur” he revealed. “I was going to call him out after my fight.”
He’s not sure, however, if Teymur, or anyone else, is in a position to accept. “Now I don’t know who’s booked and who’s not booked.” Still, Teymur was his first choice. Alan Patrick is “definitely a good fight too” should Teymur not be available. The 7-1 Teymur, undefeated in four UFC fights, does not have anything announced currently. Though who knows what negotiations are going on behind the scenes.
As for when Aubin-Mercier would like to get back in the Octagon, “I would have liked Brooklyn, but I think it’s too close now.” With that off the table then, he hopes to be back in action in a month to a month and a half.
Catch our full conversation with Canadian lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier above!
One of the top mixed martial artists in Canada today, ‘OAM’ — like pretty much every other Canadian with an interest in the sport — had the perfect role model to look up to in Georges St. Pierre. When asked if there were any other fighters who he took as an inspiration in his early days, Aubin-Mercier singled out Olympian Nicolas Gill.
“I started judo because of Nicolas Gill,” he said. Gill won the silver medal for Canada at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. He also took home bronze at the 1992 games in Barcelona. “I guess he had a big impact in my career,” Aubin-Mercier continued. “But I started MMA because of GSP too.”
Another name also came to mind. “I would say Rory [MacDonald] was a big inspiration too. I was just an amateur fighter when he fought Condit, I was surprised and impressed that he was already in the UFC fighting him.”
When it was Olivier Aubin-Mercier’s time to arrive in the UFC, the comparisons to GSP were almost immediate. Maybe it was that both were French Canadian, maybe it was the link to TriStar. Maybe it was simply because you could abbreviate their names to three initials. Probably not the last one, but in any case, it certainly added pressure.
“They were comparing myself to GSP after four fights,” the lightweight recalled. “Journalists are like this, people are like this, they compare everybody with the best. So yeah, it put a little bit of pressure on my shoulders, but I don’t feel it anymore.”
Still, the speed at which Aubin-Mercier broke into the UFC and worked his way up through the lightweight division has been impressive. And it doesn’t surprise him, exactly. “More proud than surprised,” he said of the achievement. “Like you said, I had just four fights when I went [on] TUF: Nations, which is not a lot.” Fighters from the show with far more experience didn’t last in the UFC, he pointed out. “So I’m more proud of what I did. I don’t think I’m the one that went the fastest [to the UFC], but I went fast, and I’m proud of it.”
Speaking of TUF Nations, whatever happened to the country vs. country format? ‘OAM’ suggested there may have been a plan to do more seasons. Canada vs. the UK, or Canada vs. Brazil, could have been stellar. “I hope at some point they’re going to do it again” he stated.
In the past, Aubin-Mercier has said that he didn’t watch a lot of UFC events, but the lightweight told us that’s no longer the case. And the reason might surprise you. “I watch it more now. I didn’t have cable before,” he said. “Now I can watch it, I paid for the cable. I’m still not at the point that I can pay for the PPV, but I can pay for the cable,” he added with a laugh.
“I watch it more and more. A lot of my friends bet on the fights, and they often ask me my point of view. I like to see them lose” he chuckled. “Of course I give them bad advice. Actually there’s a running gag, that every time I think someone [will] win, you have the bet for the opposite guy, since I’m really really bad at betting and picking who will win.”
Note to self, do not take betting advice from Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
On a more serious note, while the ‘Quebec Kid’ awaits his next assignment, what’s his goal for the remainder of 2018? “To be in that top fifteen myself at the end of the year.”
Before we go, don’t miss Olivier doing his best Nate Diaz impression as he took in UFC on FOX 28 in Orlando, unfortunately as a spectator. Still, making the best of it!
— Olivier Aubin (@oliaubin) February 24, 2018