Road to the UFC’s Mark Climaco: Road Was Obvious Choice

Photo courtesy of IG (@markclimaco)

Mark Climaco has been making all the moves you’d expect of someone nipping at the heels of a UFC contract. He’s working with a high-level team at the American Kickboxing Academy. He also has back to back wins over fellow prospects in LFA. All that he was lacking was the opening to get the contract in front of him.

While Contender Series is coming at the end of the summer, Climaco opted for another option – Road to the UFC.

“They came to us with this offer. They said we could either do this or try to get on Contender Series and I liked the idea of the tournament,” Climaco explained. “I like that it’s a for sure path to the contract – it’s not dependent on how Dana White sees the fight.”

Some of that is due to his own enjoyment of the tournament. However, some is also due to some negative experience his acquaintances have had with Contender Series in the past.

“I have people that I knew who went in there and had tough fights and unfortunately they didn’t get the contract,” he said. “It kind of put them in a tough place, so I like the format of a tournament.”

Not only is it a clearer path, but Climaco sees lots of other benfits from the tournament format. One of those benefits is the ability to get a few more high level fights before making it to the octagon.

“The way I see it, it’s three extra fights of experience for me to get,” Climaco said. “It’s the perfect thing for me, in my opinion.”

Another of such benefits is to reach a market that he has not previously. Although he was born in the United States, Climaco hopes to rally the fans of his parents’ birth country while competing in Asia.

“I’m going to tap into the Asian market – get my name out there,” he said. “That was a huge part of the motivation. I have that background – I was born in America, but my blood is Filipino. It’s a huge opportunity to represent the Philippines and get the Philippines behind my back. It’s been a while since the Philippines has had a top level prospect in the UFC, so I look forward to working my way up to be the next Filipino star.”

He’ll take his first step down that road this Saturday at Road to the UFC. He’ll be featured on Saturday’s first episode, which starts at 6am EST. He’ll face Jung Hyun Lee in the opening round matchup of the flyweight tournament.

You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 26:33.