Tim Elliott won a season of the Ultimate Fighter, challenged Demetrious Johnson for the UFC’s flyweight title, and gave the all-time great one of the toughest tests of his UFC run. And despite that, he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
As was originally planned for the UFC on ESPN 13 card Wednesday night (that’s UFC Fight Island 1, an odd bit of numbering given it’s the second show billed as “Fight Island” this month), Elliott was quite far down the totem pole. Fighting on the prelims. Then, as luck would have it, Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz was bumped from the card.
Elliott (15–11–1) now finds himself in the co-main event slot, eagerly awaiting his Fight Island bout. He takes on Ryan Benoit.
“Oh man, it feels great honestly, with or without the co-main event. And I’m feeling like a like a reborn baby here,” he exclaimed, speaking to Cageside Press during the event’s virtual media day. “I’ve never felt better, never felt more ready to get in there. But I like the extra time that I’m going to have.”
That, of course, is in reference to his fight being pushed back. The time difference between Abu Dhabi and the west means that fighters will hit the cage in the wee hours of the morning. “Normally I would like to fight early. If I was in Las Vegas, I would like to be the second fight. But since my fight was going to be three o’clock in the morning, I’m going to get a few more hours now with the second to last fight. So it just makes it better for me.”
The elephant in the room ahead of this fight, when it comes to Elliott, is his recent record. 0-3 inside the octagon. Elliott has been on a similar streak before. It saw him cut from the promotion, before he returned and triumphed on season twenty-four of The Ultimate Fighter.
It’s a lot of pressure to be under, but it’s something Elliott is taking in stride. Especially since he just signed a new deal with the UFC.
“I mean, there’s always pressure but the good news is, I’m on a three-fight losing streak and they just renewed my contract. They gave me four fights. I got a pay raise,” he revealed. “And now I’m in the co-main event slot. So there’s always pressure in the sport, but man, I’m a pressure guy. I’m a pressure fighter and I love it. That’s what I’m doing here. I like the nerves. I like the anxiety.”
The only thing he doesn’t like? The lack of a crowd during the pandemic. “That’s one thing I’m really gonna miss. But yeah, other than that, everything couldn’t be better.”
Watch our full UFC Fight Island 1 media day interview with Tim Elliott above.