Austin Hubbard Resurgent on Latest Installment of The Ultimate Fighter 31

Austin Hubbard UFC
Austin Hubbard, UFC Vancouver Ceremonial Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Aaron McKenzie was paired up with Austin Hubbard on the third episode of The Ultimate Fighter 31, which opened with scenes of Conor McGregor working with his team.

Team McGregor was down 0-2 to start the show, with Michael Chandler’s veterans out to an early lead against McGregor’s newcomers.

We’re recapping each episode this season; beware of spoilers below.

McKenzie, an LFA veteran, had over ten amateur fights prior to amassing an 11-2-1 record as a pro, so he has plenty of experience — just a few fights shy of Hubbard himself. Coach McGregor calls him “cool, calm and calculated” and adds that “people don’t talk about calmness enough” when it comes to discussing fighters.

Hubbard says he recently lost his brother, while his wife had a miscarriage. “Life’s kicking my butt,” says Hubbard, who carries his brother’s ashes with him. He works in home restoration when not competing, having moved to Chicago after digging himself into a “financial hole” living in Colorado.

Later in the episode, Conor McGregor brings in a fan who makes his own action figures, using parts from old toys and painting on decals and tattoos. McGregor pays him $1200 for a couple of them — a whole lot of money given the kid in question is about 12 years old.

It’s weigh-in time. Dana White says the promotion wanted to give Hubbard another shot in the UFC, because they believe he’s the hard-working type of guy that deserves to be there. Both fighters make weight.

There’s plenty of back-and-forth in the early going of McKenzie vs. Hubbard. McKenzie punctuates his combos with low kicks, then catches a Hubbard kick and takes him to the cage. McKenzie cannot get his opponent down, and instead clamps on a body lock. McKenzie looks for a trip, but winds up giving up position and eventually they break. Now it’s Hubbard’s turn to press, walking forward throwing front kicks to the body. McKenzie eventually catches another one, but doesn’t get much done with it. He also gets clipped a minute or so later, and ends up going down with Hubbard getting on top of him, dropping some nasty ground n’ pound. McKenzie is a bloody mess, but does just enough, battling the wrists, to stay in the fight.

McKenzie cleans up quite well between rounds, and targets Hubbard’s lead leg early in round two. He winds up taking Hubbard to the fence again, but again can’t make a takedown happen and again loses the position, with Hubbard instead dragging him down. Hubbard was nasty on top in round one and he’s nasty here again with elbows cutting open McKenzie some more. McKenzie does wall walk up, but a trip takes him right back down. Hubbard works him over until the end of the round, but there will be no third, leaving no doubt as to who won that fight — Hubbard by unanimous decision. Team McGregor is now down 0-3.

“The work’s not finished. I came here to win the show. So two more fights, and I need two more victories before I’m happy,” Hubbard said following the victory.

Next week on TUF 31, Trevor Wells takes on UFC vet Timur Valiev.