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Billy Quarantillo poses for a post fight portrait backstage during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Billy Quarantillo's Goals Have Evolved

Rising Featherweight Billy Quarantillo Is Determined To Take The Next Step When He Fights Edson Barboza At UFC Kansas City.

In 1986, Ferris Bueller informed the world that life moves pretty fast. In 2023, no one knows that better than Billy Quarantillo.

The rising featherweight star, who faces Edson Barboza in the UFC Kansas City co-main event on Saturday, is at a place in his career where every fight is bigger than the last, and every opponent is a killer looking to knock him from his place in the 145-pound weight class. That’s fine. That’s where the Buffalo native wanted to be ever since he put on the gloves.

But beyond his day job, Quarantillo is married with a young son in the house, and there needs to be time for “real life” to go along with the fight life.

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Again, he’s just fine with that. But finding the balance to give every aspect of his life the attention it deserves, that’s the juggling act that often separates the champions from the contenders in this unforgiving sport.

“That's what my life is now, where it's just finding that balance,” Quarantillo said. “I do a lot of coaching, and with the younger guys, I try to give them what I needed when I was coming up. And the balance that I try to find is when I go to the gym, it's time to work. So when I'm at the gym, it's like boom, boom, boom. You're doing the striking, you're doing this, you're doing that, and then I don't really spend a lot of time bulls**tting after and messing around, and I come right back home or I have to study film so I’ll do that.”

Billy Quarantillo Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen
Billy Quarantillo Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen

In other words, no tuning in to Shooto fights from Japan at 4am on a Sunday morning.

“It's not an all day, everyday thing,” he laughs. “I actually treat it like a job where I'm putting 40 hours a week into it. But there's that cutoff when I'm with my baby, I'm not watching the fights. And I'm not with my wife and watching random fights or doing something like that. So it has changed a lot. Before I was in the UFC, I would watch every single UFC fight because I'm like, I want to get there. This is what I want to do. And now, I'll watch the fights sometimes and maybe they'll pay me to do a watch party or something like that. But besides that, when I'm with my wife and kid, I try to turn that off.”

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Billy Quarantillo conecta soco em Alexander Hernandez no UFC 282, em dezembro de 2022 (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Billy Quarantillo punches Alexander Hernandez in a featherweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

It's working for the 34-year-old, who took the long way to the UFC. Quarantillo built his name on the regional scene and competed on The Ultimate Fighter before a 2019 win over Kamuela Kirk on Dana White’s Contender Series earned him a place on the roster. Since then, he’s won five of seven fights with four finishes and two post-fight performance bonuses. In other words, he’s got a home in the Octagon, and the future is only looking brighter from here.

Even more notable is that Quarantillo knows all this, and that confidence was evident in his most recent bout with Alexander Hernandez. A longtime lightweight standout, Hernandez was making his featherweight debut, and in the first round, he looked good against “Billy Q,” who went back to his corner down on the scorecards and cut.

View Quarantillo's Athlete Profile | Featherweight Rankings

“I knew he was going to be super aggressive early in the fight,” Quarantillo recalls. “Because that's what he does; he gets a lot of finishes. So I knew going into that fight, if I can wear him down in the first round, make him wrestle with me, even if I lost the round, I knew I'd be able to take over in the later rounds.

“He was laying some good shots, but I didn't get discouraged right away. And I actually got to a point where he got me up against the cage and I kind of busted his eye open a little bit. So his eye was bleeding and I remember thinking in my head, oh man, I'm going to take over in this fight. He's already hurt. I'm working his body good. I felt like I was going to take over. Then I made a huge mistake. I threw an overhand. He got out of the way, took me down and almost put me in a head-arm choke. I'm like, how'd you let this happen? This isn't good. Defend the choke. Then next thing you know, I get out of the choke. He elbows me and I start feeling all this blood on my face and I'm like, oh no, this can't be happening right now.”

It was, but Quarantillo wasn’t rattled. Most things were going to plan, but the cut was going to be something that threw a wrench into it if the cutman couldn’t stop the flow of blood.

Round two.

Edson Barboza vs Billy Quarantillo Preview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen
Edson Barboza vs Billy Quarantillo Preview | UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen

“I knew it was a bad cut, but I did remember that I landed some big shots,” Quarantillo continues. “So I basically forgot about the cut, went out there in the second round and just kept pushing that pace. And my game plan actually worked out almost perfectly how I wanted it besides that big cut. If you take the big cut out of it, it's exactly what I wanted to do. Because on paper, yeah, I lost the first round, but I made him sprint with me. I made him go at my pace. And then by the second round, I started laying a couple shots and then I could see him backing up a little bit. And in my head, I was like, now I got you. Now you bit off more than you could chew. You tried to keep that pace with me. And that's when I took over and I was able to get the finish.”

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The win earned Quarantillo a Performance of the Night bonus, maintained his reputation as one of the most exciting fighters in the division, and got him another big fight. This one will likely land him in the featherweight Top 15 should he win, and yes, things will speed up for him even more. So what about the rest of Mr. Bueller’s quote?

“If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Is Billy Q at least taking a minute to look around once in a while?

“I'm very proud of how far I've come,” Quarantillo said. “But as the great Kobe Bryant said, the job's not finished yet. So there's still more work to be done. For the longest time, just getting in the UFC was the goal for eight years of living in Tampa. It was just to get in the UFC. But now it's like, you’ve got to win these fights now.”

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UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen took place live from T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on April 15, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass