With two minutes left in the opening round of Trevor Peek’s Dana White’s Contender Series bout in September, former UFC lightweight and current UFC commentator Paul Felder said, “[The referee’s] going to stop it.”
Those words favored Peek’s opponent Malik Lewis who, throughout the entirety of the opening round, dominated every facet of the fight and had Peek on the defensive up against the Octagon walls. Yet Peek weathered a destructive storm until the horn and collected himself between rounds.
Early in the second, Peek capitalized on Lewis’ failed spinning backfist attempt and secured a takedown. From there on out, Peek didn’t hesitate to start hammering away on the ground. Lewis had to get to his feet, but as soon as he did, Peek landed a knee in the clinch that sent Lewis to the mat. Peek went on a relentless pursuit to get a finish, landing vicious ground-and-pound for as long as it took for the referee to step in and stop the fight.
Not only did it earn Peek his sixth consecutive victory, all by way of finish, in his undefeated professional mixed martial arts career, but also a coveted UFC contract.
“Crazy,” Peek said reflecting on his experience on Dana White’s Contender Series. “It was an out of this world experience [and] something I worked at for a very long time. It all just seemed surreal.
“I look forward to meeting Dana White. I unfortunately had to go to the hospital after the Contender Series fight, so I didn’t get to meet him. I’m just glad to be out here with good people; that’s the best part about all of this.”
Making it to the UFC was always one of Peek’s dreams, one that he envisioned before even starting mixed martial arts training. The Alabama native started out in street fights until a school friend took note of Peek’s desire and physical capabilities.
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“I visualized myself making it to the UFC way before I even started training,” Peek said. “I had a bad problem with street fighting and, honestly, I was pretty decent at it. I’d done a couple unsanctioned events and fought a few times in sanctioned MMA events, and I’d won most of them. So, I envisioned it long before I got serious about it.
“I had a good friend that trained whenever we were in high school. He was really big into the UFC, and he told me when I was 14 years old that if you ever wanted to make a lot of money you could do it in fighting. It kind of stuck with me, and throughout the years I had all kinds of people telling me they thought I could make it.”
With the inspiration of his family, who offered immense support and motivation throughout his decade-long journey to the UFC, Peek hopes to now use his success and platform as an avenue to a better life.
Despite being five months removed from his fight against Lewis on Dana White’s Contender Series, the magnitude of his accomplishments hadn’t fully surfaced until tuning in to last weekend’s card.
“I was watching the post-fight show this past weekend and seeing my name pop up on the screen, that’s the hardest it’s hit me since signing with the UFC,” Peek said. “It was crazy. I had to run down my friend’s driveway jumping and screaming. It was a really cool experience but I’m starting to feel like a UFC fighter now.”
Peek begins the next chapter of his career this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Krylov vs Spann, challenging Erick Gonzalez in his first walk as a contracted UFC athlete. This is the same walk, however, that Peek made back in September, and having familiarity with the venue and fight week procedure should be beneficial for the promotion’s newcomer.
Gonzalez is on a two-fight skid since his UFC arrival in October 2021, but his fights have been nothing short of entertaining.
“The most exciting thing about Erick Gonzalez and this [fight] is he’s got a little bit of a brawler mentality,” Peek said. “I shine in them moments, man. I’m looking forward to it; I think that brawler [style] will resurface and I love a dog fight.”
“As soon as I started watching videos on him and seeing that he engages in that firefight-type stuff, I was like, ‘Well, I’m really good at that stuff.’ If you want to bite down and sling, I’ll bite down and sling.”
On the microphone, Peek is as genuine as an athlete can be, but don’t let that fool you. Once the referee starts the fight, Peek’s an entirely different athlete that wants nothing more than to put on a show for any first-time viewers.
“I’m mean,” Peek joked. “I love the people out here, I try to treat people right and I care about people and wish everybody the best, but when that cage door locks, I’m a violent being. I’m just mean in there, man.
“I’m as tough as they come; I’ll go out on my shield. I’m violent; I’ve got really good power, a granite chin and a heart as big as a lion’s. I’m an exciting fighter to watch.”