Adam Fugitt’s management told him that he was on the UFC’s radar, so stay ready. He did, and nine days out from today’s UFC 277 card in Dallas, he got the call to face unbeaten Michael Morales. It didn’t come with a lot of fanfare as Fugitt was in between teaching classes at the gym. In fact, the only one around him was his dog.
“He was out cold, laying there asleep,” Fugitt laughs.
So not impressed?
That’s okay, because Fugitt has never been one to sing his own praises from the mountaintops, spend more time on social media than the gym, or look to find the nearest camera or interview. He’s an honest fighter, one who built an 8-2 record that earned him an offer from the biggest promotion in the sport of mixed martial arts, and he felt that the time was, if not overdue, at least right on time.
“I just had a feeling in my gut that something was gonna happen,” said the 33-year-old from Eugene, Oregon. “I haven't really stopped training. Not fight camp intensity, but every day I train twice a day, getting rounds with Brent Primus, Lucas Barbosa and staying ready.”
It’s not easy to do, training and working everyday with no light at the end of the tunnel in the form of an opponent and a fight date. And Fugitt went through more than just a few months of that grind – more like 27 months.
“I feel like I've been turned away and forgotten numerous times in this sport,” he said. “I went through a full pandemic where I didn't know if fighting was even gonna happen again for me, only to wake up the next morning and say, it's time to put the boots on, it's time to go to work and do the only thing that keeps me grounded and keeps me going, and that's training and preparing. I spent basically two years lying in wait and hoping that I finally got put in front of the right crowd and the right people to earn this shot.”
In February, he got that shot and made the most of it, shocking hot prospect Solomon Renfro with a 43-second knockout. The call to the UFC wasn’t immediate, but it at least put the welterweight on the radar. And yeah, getting those three letters on his gloves is a big deal.
“It's a dream come true, to be honest,” Fugitt said. “And I'm not one of these motivational Instagram people. (Laughs)
So no memes?
“No, I'm not putting memes up. I train and I love this sport because it's what makes me whole and what keeps me going. I believed that if I put myself in front of the right people and was seen by the right people, I'd get my shot. But as far as some of these motivational people, I'm hearing what you're selling, but when's it gonna happen for me? I've been working a while. I finally got those letters, and it feels good.”
Not so good that he’s just happy to be here. Fugitt has a fight in front of him today, and he’s showing up to win it, despite what the oddsmakers might think.
“I think I'm coming back down to Earth a little bit already. That chip on my shoulder's already coming back because I'm being told I'm this major underdog again - Vegas don't like me too well. (Laughs) I'm ready to go shut some people up.”
It is the curse that comes along with the blessing – on one hand, Fugitt is now competing with the best in the game, but as a newcomer, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Then again, he’s used to this and used to proving people wrong. And he plans on doing it again.
“It keeps me humble, to be honest,” he said. “I can sit here and say it kinda gets underneath my skin a little bit, but, at the same time, I think that if everybody just jumped on the train and was like, 'We believe you now, we're ready to go,' it would take a little bit of that motivation away from me. And I guess I always fight better with that chip on my shoulder, so I'm gonna say thank you to the haters, keep disbelieving, and I'll continue to go out there and prove you wrong.”
Welcome to the UFC, Adam Fugitt. It’s almost showtime.
“I haven't had anything given to me,” he said. “I've had to fight tooth and nail and claw my way in here, and when I step in there on Saturday, he's gonna have to turn my lights out; that's just how it is. I'm not giving this up.”
UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes, took place on Saturday, July 30, 2022 live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!