Julian Erosa’s stints in the UFC – all three of them – combine to tell one of better turnaround stories in MMA right now. After getting knocked out of The Ultimate Fighter, getting cut twice from the organization, and compiling a 1-3 record, Erosa could have all but written off a career on the big stage.
Looking back at that time, Erosa notes that his mindset played a huge role in the adverse results.
“When I first got to the UFC, to try to get the nerves off, I kind of reasoned with myself why it would be okay to lose… You want to make sure that if you do lose, it’s not the end of the world,” Erosa said. “It’s a huge negative thing to be doing because you beat yourself before you even get into the cage.”
Following being cut for the second time, Erosa’s hope was low for a reunion with his twice employer. However, his new manager, Iridium’s Jason House, convinced Erosa to stay ready in the uncertain times of the pandemic. That paid off when Kyle Nelson had visa issues getting into the United States and Sean Woodson suddenly needed a new opponent.
The extra chance didn’t go to waste with Erosa not only picking up the win, but a 50k bonus thanks to a d’arce choke. He’s added another highlight reel finish since then, a flying knee KO of Nate Landwehr, tripling his win total in eight months time. So what was the big change from his prior performances to now?
“I think, honestly, for me to try to pinpoint something specific can be kind of difficult,” he admits. “I became more desperate. You know when they say a desperate man is a dangerous man? I think that’s a little bit of what happened.”
While some of that desperation comes from having his dream of being a top UFC fighter slip away, the difficulties extended outside of the cage as well. Given the state of regional promotions during the pandemic, it was hard for Erosa and his wife to know what the future might hold.
“Me and my wife had to sell our house because we weren’t so sure about what was going on [with the pandemic]. She wasn’t working, I wasn’t working,” he said. “We had to make some adjustments financially and it put me in a place of being a little desperate.”
And while that desperation outside of the cage added fuel to the fire, it was the desperate style and mindset that he brought into the cage that is paying off in a big way.
“I was 1-4 and got cut again from the UFC. I figured there’s no way I’m going back to the UFC,” Erosa said. “I just told myself that any fight I get, anywhere, I’m just going to have the mindset of being willing to let it all hang out. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs for me to win the fight – I’m willing to die in the cage.”
Erosa will look to keep that desperately dangerous streak going when he faces off with Seung Woo Choi at UFC Vegas 29. That fight will take place on the main card portion on ESPN+ this Saturday.
You can listen to the entire audio of this interview at 2:04.