Billy Quarantillo didn’t exactly want to fight outside the featherweight division, where he’s looking to work his way up the ladder. Given the current global situation, however, the Contender Series alum was left with little choice.
Which is why he’ll face Spike Carlyle at a catchweight of 150lbs this weekend at UFC Vegas.
Speaking to Cageside Press at the event’s virtual media day, Quarantillo explained the situation, while downplaying any worries over the size difference. Carlyle, for those unaware, has competed at lightweight before.
“It’s not really going to be a big concern. Going into this I wanted to fight at featherweight just, you know, try to climb up the rankings,” said Quarantillo. “But since he wanted to do it a little heavier, [the UFC] basically said ‘either take this fight against Spike, or you’re gonna have to probably wait a little while.’ And I didn’t want to wait any longer.”
It’s hard to blame him. Events have been few and far between since mid-March, when the coronavirus hit U.S. shores at full steam. The UFC is the first major sports body to resume action, and it hasn’t been easy. So getting a fight in when you can is key for someone who is a prize fighter. Plus, as Quarantillo added, “I thought it was a good match-up stylistically for me. And I don’t think [the weight] is gonna make much of a difference. He’s really explosive in the first round, but my conditioning is right where it needs to be. So I still think it’s a great fight for me.”
There’s a bit of a revenge storyline is this match-up. Carlyle made his debut back in February at UFC Norfolk, finishing Quarantillo’s teammate Aalon Cruz. But while revenge would no doubt be nice, “I’m trying to make it just business as usual,” Quarantillo told us.
“I wasn’t a big fan of that fight. I think Alon was a little bit nervous going into that one,” the Florida native revealed. “And in my opinion, and I know a lot of people agree with me, I thought the way the fight ended was a little controversial. Because of those elbows, that might have been to the back of the head. It looked a little a little suspect to me. So, yeah, it’s a little personal, but at the end of the day, whoever the UFC puts in front of me, my goal is to go out there and get the finish.”
Going through a fight camp during a pandemic, in his home of Tampa, Florida, was something new, explained Quarantillo. “We did actually have to shut down our gym at Gracie Tampa South where I’ve been at since 2010,” he said. “While we shut that down, I was basically hitting mitts in my house with a few teammates.”
Luckily, Quarantillo said, a couple more training partners arrived, in the form of Matt Frevola, Randy Costa, and the aforementioned Aalon Cruz. “And a few of the rest of my teammates were basically having private sessions, just with a group of us closing the gym off. I was able to get some really good work in. It was definitely a different training camp. But you know, I’m more ready for this right now.”
UFC on ESPN 9 goes down this Saturday, May 30 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. The event airs live on ESPN (TSN in Canada).