Violent Bob Ross, a.k.a. Luis Pena, spoke of training with Khabib Nurmagomedov prior to UFC Denver, but after getting the win on Saturday, TUF 27 champ Mike Trizano isn’t so sure it helped him much.
Denver, CO — When The Ultimate Fighter 27 wrapped up in July, Mike Trizano was the last man standing at lightweight. Claiming the TUF title and the contract that comes with it, he was the man of the hour. Except for one nagging question: how would Violent Bob Ross, properly known as Luis Pena, have fared? VBR was the man many excepted to win the show, but he was injured following his first bout, and had to pull out. It was a question finally answered at UFC Denver on Saturday night.
Despite Pena garnering most of the media attention ahead of the fight, it was Trizano, again, who had his hand raised in the end. And really, having won his first “real” UFC fight, via split decision, the lightweight TUF winner is thrilled. “It’s a dream come true. This is my passion,” he told reporters including Cageside Press after the fight. “It’s an amazing opportunity to compete at this level. With Savages. I’m blessed. Just take in the moment, and enjoy the process.”
Asked whether it felt any different from the TUF 27 Finale, which of course counts as a UFC fight, Trizano said that “it feels totally different. Not stuck in the house. I’m away from actual TUF. Even though I fought one of the guys who was on the show with me, you know I still treated it as my first actual UFC event. And it is.” He also had a little message for the naysayers. “Regardless of what social media’s been saying about he should have won, well, how’s that for you guys?”
However, he doesn’t let the doubters get to him, saying afterward that “I don’t really care. You have to have thick skin in this sport. People are going to hate you and they’re going to love you regardless of whatever the outcome’s going to be. I don’t pay too much attention to it.” There’s no jealousy over Pena’s higher profile, either, much of which Trizano attributes to the Violent Bob Ross name. “He was getting a ton of publicity. He’s a great marketing tool, his nickname, and he ran with it. Good for him. It’s a great thing going for him in his career, it’s not over for him. You never lose, you win or you learn. I got a lot of respect for him, I got a lot of respect for anybody stepping in that cage. Nobody understands until they actually do it.”
Trizano, however, does feel he could have done more in the fight. Especially given Pena didn’t show the offense many expected. “I’m very, very critical on myself. I want to make sure I’m letting my hands go,” Trizano noted. “I could have let go a lot more, I could have finished that fight. I was landing good strikes, he wasn’t really landing anything on me. He was just taking me down, holding me there. He didn’t really hit me. I think it’s more of what I could have done better that would have changed the outcome of the fight.”
Asked about Pena’s comments pre-fight about training with Khabib Nurmagomedov, and saying there was nothing Trizano could show him he hadn’t already seen, Trizano answered with a laugh that “the dude’s wrestling a bear. I’m sure Luis was a ragdoll for a few weeks. I don’t know how much good work he got.”
“I mean yeah, it could maybe make him tougher, but I’m pretty sure Khabib tossed him around, as well as all the other guys he trained with,” he added. “I don’t know if I’d want to be a training partner for Khabib to be honest.”
Watch the full UFC Denver post-fight press scrum with Mike Trizano above!