The coronavirus pandemic has impacted fighters in different ways. To vastly different extents. Jordan Espinosa was one of the lucky ones. “For me it wasn’t that bad. I have three roommates that are all professional fighters, and we have a little gym area in our house in Albuquerque,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press during the UFC on ESPN 10 media day.
When the pandemic hit, Espinosa was originally expected to compete in Kazakhstan. While he knew that was likely to change, he also figured he’d still be fighting at some point. So he continued training, and sure enough, while his opponent changed, the date stayed the same.
Espinosa was expected to face Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC Kazakhstan. Now, in Las Vegas, he faces off with Mark De La Rosa. The opponent change, it seems, has gone smoothly.
“Honestly it hasn’t been that bad,” said Espinosa. “For my UFC debut back in November 2018, or what was supposed to be my debut, I was supposed to fight Mark. So I already had a training camp for him a year and a half ago. We’ve had some of the same opponents, and I’m very familiar with his style. So honestly, it was an easy transition.”
For Espinosa, a veteran of Dana White’s Contender Series who appeared on the show twice, the lack of fan presence at UFC on ESPN 10 will be familiar territory. “Compared to most of the guys on the card, I definitely think it’s going to be more familiar for me,” he suggested. “I’ve fought on the Contender Series twice. The first time in the first season I was kind of nervous, wasn’t sure what to expect. But the second time, I was so calm, everything felt real relaxed, and I was so comfortable. I expect this to feel the same.”
What might be a little more nerve wracking is entering the bout on a two-fight skid. But to Espinosa, his back being against the fall is fuel for the fire. “It’s definitely fuel,” he told us. “Honestly given how I lost in the last two fights, I thought I was going to be cut after the last fight. Glad I didn’t. But it’s definitely motivation. My opponent, he’s coming in off a three-fight losing streak, so he has just as much pressure, if not more. So I think that makes for an exciting fight, and I’m looking forward to it.”
UFC on ESPN 10 takes place this Saturday, June 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. The card airs live on ESPN and ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).