Liverpool’s Terry Etim may have brought in the New Year in Brazil, but it almost felt like home considering the rain that greeted his arrival two weeks before this Saturday’s UFC 142 bout against Edson Barboza.
“I thought I’d come over a few weeks before, obviously to get used to the heat and acclimatize,” said Etim. “I’ve got so many good friends out here, so I came over and stayed with them. To be honest, the first few days it was raining, so it wasn’t too hot. But I had to get used to the humidity and stuff like that, so it’s been good.”
Etim’s decision to leave the comforts of the UK shows just how important this fight is to him and his career, so he’s leaving no stone unturned in preparation. In Barboza, he’s facing someone at almost the same stage in his career – hot prospect on the verge of becoming a contender. Yet for Etim, it’s almost as if he’s living this moment again, and ironically against another Brazilian.
Back in April of 2010, Etim brought a four fight winning streak into his UFC 112 match against Rafael dos Anjos, and with a win, he was likely to move himself up the 155-pound ladder. A submission loss cut his winning streak and his momentum short, and a subsequent rib injury did even more damage, putting him on the shelf for nearly 19 months.
When he returned last November though, it was as if he picked up from where his winning streak left off, as he thrilled his home country fans in Birmingham with a 17 second submission of Edward Faaloloto. Ring rust? It didn’t look like there was any, but could you really tell in less than a minute? Etim believes it was much ado about nothing.
“Everyone was talking about that in my last fight, thinking there was gonna be ring rust, and I think I showed that I was as sharp as ever, and going into this fight I’m as confident as ever and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m not dwelling on the last fight. That’s the past and I can’t keep thinking about it. It was a good performance, even though it was fast, but now it’s done now and I’ve gotta just look forward. The main thing on my mind is January 14th and beating Barboza.”
Just turning 26 today (January 11), Etim can almost get away with a long layoff and then come back as if nothing happened. It’s the benefits of youth. Yet what he also brings to Rio is the benefit of experience. Barboza has impressed in his three UFC bouts thus far, but he can’t make up for the fact that Etim will be setting foot in the Octagon for the tenth time this weekend, something that doesn’t necessarily show up on fight night, but in the days leading up to it.
“This is gonna be my 10th fight in the UFC, so I know what to expect,” he said. “I know what the buildup’s like to fight, I know what UFC week’s like, so it’s not a big shock to me. I remember the first time, and the week’s buildup was a very big thing, but now it’s just another week and another fight. I’m only 25 (ed note - this interview was conducted before Etim’s birthday on Jan. 11), but it feels like I’ve been in the UFC for a very long time. My debut was when I was 21.”
Since that debut, a first round finish of Matt Grice at UFC 70, Etim has gone 6-3 in the UFC, earned four Submission of the Night awards, and he’s also become a bit of a world traveler, fighting not only in England, but in the United States, Germany, and Abu Dhabi.
“It’s not the first time fighting abroad, so I’m used to flying away from home and it shouldn’t be too big of a problem,” he said. “I’m excited to be fighting in Brazil.”
Even if he gets booed on Saturday?
“I don’t think the crowd is going to be too big of a deal,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s gonna be me and him in there, and my cornermen are the only ones I’m going to be listening to, I’m not gonna be listening to the crowd.”
He will also have his eyes on Barboza, a fighter he has been paying attention to since the Muay Thai specialist began racking up wins.
“Before I found out I was fighting him, I had seen his fights, and I think he’s one of the best guys in the division, and they’re the guys you want to fight,” said Etim. “I said after my last fight that I want to fight the best guys in the division and they came back with Barboza straight away and I was happy with the match, and I can’t wait for the fight. He (Barboza) has come into the UFC and done really well, so I know it’s gonna be a very tough fight and I think it’s gonna be a very exciting fight for the crowd. But I’m very confident going in.”
And if Etim has his way, the beginning of 2012 will look a lot different than the injury-riddled start of 2011.
“I see it being a very big year,” he said, “racking up a good list of wins, and then making a run for the title.”
Terry's Task - To Use His Veteran Experience Against Barboza
“I don’t think the crowd is going to be too big of a deal. At the end of the day, it’s gonna be me and him in there." - Terry Etim