Fight week. Only a select few embrace what is usually a stressful, hectic time in the lead-up to Saturday night and a fistfight.
Garrett Armfield is one of those few.
“It's my favorite, and I just love being there,” he said. “I'm just like an average Joe any other day of the week. But when I'm in fight week, I'm always a UFC fighter, but I got this hotel that they paid for, I got free shuttles everywhere, I get free food. I soak it up and I freaking love it, man.”
If you didn’t know it before, it’s now crystal clear that the 26-year-old bantamweight is a unicorn in the fight game. And yeah, he loves the fight itself as much as the days before it.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Don't you get scared to fight?’ And yeah, I get f**king scared, but I love it so much. I love a challenge. I love experiencing emotions and all that, so now you don't really get scared as much anymore. But I don’t know, I feel like, for me, it's just the reward. It's so worth all the risk and all of the fear that you may or may not have going into the fight; just the reward of getting your hand raised, not even talking about the opportunity to win a bonus or the opportunity to get two paychecks. Just the reward that you get for grinding through something for months on end and sacrificing food and sacrificing water, and it really makes you appreciate little things. And to be honest, for us, fighting's our entire world, right? Somebody just kind of looks at it as like a fight, so that's probably why they're like, ‘Oh, you’re probably nervous, you're scared.’ But in reality, you're proud of yourself. You're here.”
Armfield should be proud. He paid his dues, weathered the storms that come along with fighting on the regional MMA circuit, and in July of last year, he got the call from the UFC to face David Onama, who had already decisioned Armfield when both were amateurs. Onama repeated his victory, this time via submission in the second round of a competitive scrap, but even a loss couldn’t take away the moment from Armfield.
“I freaking cried in my hotel room right before I was about to go out there,” he said. “Not even out of sadness, just out of pure happiness. Because to be honest, there were times when you're on the come up and say you're injured, or you just lost a fight. You're like, man, is this worth it? Do I want to keep doing this? And you just keep telling yourself, you can't give up; it'll be worth it one day. And I remember just sitting there and I'm looking over the Las Vegas mountains, and I'm like, I never quit. I kept going and I'm here now. This is exactly where I'm meant to be.”
There would be more obstacles to climb after the Onama rematch, including a bout with staph infection, scrapped fights with Christian Rodriguez and Jose Johnson, and a move back home to Missouri to train with the growing Marathon MMA squad. But he persevered, and on Saturday, he’s back where he’s meant to be, in the Octagon at Singapore Indoor Stadium to face Japan’s Toshiomi Kazama.
Now you know why Armfield loves fight week, especially the final day of it.
“Obviously, it's not the easy part,” he said of the actual fight. “But in the grand scheme of things, it is the easy part because it is 15 minutes versus 90 days.”
“I'm actually kind of shocked that it doesn't mean the world to every single fighter.”
UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs The Korean Zombie took place live from Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on August 26, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!