The pandemic has affected everyone differently, but for Paris Standford, his worst nightmare came to be.
Stanford (5-3) is returning to action on July 8 at LFA 135 in his home state of Arizona for the first time in two years. Not only is he fighting for the first time in two years, but he is moving down to bantamweight for the first time in his career.
He faces highly touted Brazilian prospect Allan Begosso, who is coming off an LFA bantamweight title fight loss.
When Stanford steps into the cage on July 8, he will be doing so without both of his parents, who tragically passed away within the last year.
“In 2021, I was looking to fight, especially towards the end of the year. Fight Ready had opened up towards the middle of the year, and I run a jujitsu program out of Fight Ready -I’m the head professor of Paris Stanford jujitsu,” Standford told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview. “So I was just getting that up and going again, getting my students going, getting the clientele back in. And, man, I gotta call November 1 that my father had suddenly passed. And it was like, ‘Oh my God’, you know, it was just out of nowhere. I had just seen him the weekend before; I had talked to him the day before.”
“My father was my biggest supporter, you know, he really was. We hadn’t always been on good terms, but the last few years, it was special. Especially when I fought for LFA [the first time], that was actually the first fight he came to. And yeah, and he got to see that fight. It was such a good fight for me. And he was so proud, man, he was so proud. But yeah, he suffered a massive heart attack.”
The pain for Stanford did not stop there. In fact, it was going to get worse.
“The week after we buried my father, my mother got diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. And unfortunately, on April 10, my mother passed, and I buried my mom too,” Stanford said. “This is how I know that God is with me because I should be destroyed. You know, I love my mother to death. My mother is a big part of my strength. She was an amazing person. She had lupus since I was young, and they wrote her off her dead back then. But she’s just a fighter. And when I tell you, I watched my mother fight to her last breath. I held her hand until the life left her body.”
With both of his parents gone, the 39-year-old fighter has even more to fight for now.
“I have a lot to fight for. And I have a lot of fire in me right now. And you know, I’ve always been a very self-motivated person. But I guess God decided I needed a little bit more motivation,” Stanford said.
“Superhero” Stanford believes his parents will be watching him, and with him returning to LFA, the first promotion that his father watched him compete in, he is planning to put on a show in their memory.
“I’ve been through so much. And I’m going to make my parents proud. I got everybody there for me, and I have all the support in the world. So if it’s meant to be, it will be. There are a million ways I can finish him in that cage,” Stanford said.
Watch the rest of our interview with Paris Stanford above. Stanford vs. Begosso goes down this Friday exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.