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The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most recent lightweight signing Callan Potter has won nine of his last 10 bouts and scored stoppages in 16 of his 17 professional victories. But coming into his late-replacement debut at UFC 234 this weekend, the 34 year-old says he wasn’t surprised that the UFC waited so long to call him up to the big show.
Speaking to Sherdog.com at the UFC 234 media day, one of Australia’s most seasoned and successful lightweights spoke excitedly about his matchup with America’s Jalin Turner, being on a card with teammate Jim Crute, competing at Australia’s iconic Rod Laver Arena and the explosion of Australiasian MMA.
“I’m feeling very excited,” Potter said on his fast-approaching debut. “Everyone’s picking on that -- the long time coming [aspect]. But I keep saying it’s probably a good thing. It’s put me in a position mentally where, as a veteran fighter, it’s not as overwhelming being in this situation now.”
“[Short notice] is part and parcel [of fighting],” he said when asked whether he was annoyed he couldn’t get a full training camp. “I kind of knew at this stage that [short notice] was going to be my way in [to the UFC], so I always made sure I was training, I made sure I was in shape. Especially when there’s a card in my home town, I always made sure I was ready to go.”
Asked if he had any reluctance to accept the bout -- or whether the weight cut might be difficult -- Potter dismissed those concerns.
“The great thing about our training group is that we have four people [Dan Kelly, Jake Matthews and Jim Crute] and to have made it to the big stage,” he said. “We’re always training, whether we have fights coming up, or other people [in the gym] have fights coming up, we’re always getting rounds in. We’re always getting prepared.
“He’s a big, long, tall, rangy striker,” Potter later said of his opponent. “I’ve fought a lot of these types before in my career. He’s very clean with his technique… the great thing is that he’s got the perfect body type that I like to grapple, so I think that’s [where] it’s going to play out. I think I’ll impose my black belt level jiu-jitsu on him.”
Potter’s bout with Turner will go down at Melbourne’s iconic Rod Laver arena and will be by far the biggest stage on which the 24-fight veteran has fought. As to the energy approaching fight night, “The Rockstar” said he accepts he’ll likely experience something new on his walk to the cage.
“I accept that there are probably going to be new nerves that there haven’t been before,” he admitted. “Instead of trying to hide from them, I just accept that they’re going to be there and am going to get the job done anyway.”
Before we left, Potter, who began his professional career in 2011, also weighed in on the explosion of Australasian MMA over the past two years.
“We’re really hitting our peak now,” he said excitedly. “Australia was on that one little back burner. I think [we were] just behind Europe and London area, and you saw that same process there. We’re hitting it now. Everyone’s sort of realising the ways to train, the ways to prepare, and the skills required to meet the top echelon of mixed martial arts. It’s really hitting the ANZAC community right now, which is sensational.”