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Bryan Battle reacts after his victory over Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Bryan Battle's Plan Is Right On Track

"Pooh Bear" Steps Into His First UFC Welterweight Matchup Against Takashi Sato At UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Hill And Is Looking To Keep His Win Streak Alive 

It’s not even a year since Bryan Battle won The Ultimate Fighter 29, but he’s been through quite a lot since last August 28.

“It feels like more than a year, to be honest,” laughs Battle, who makes his third Octagon appearance in a new weight class – welterweight – on Saturday against Takashi Sato. “So much stuff has happened, it's crazy that was only a year ago. But everything's been good, so it's been a crazy year, but a good year.”

Back-to-back UFC wins over Gilbert Urbina and Tresean Gore certainly qualify as good things, and that’s just in the Octagon. Outside of it, Battle has no complaints, either.

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“The first thing that happened was I had my baby, so that was a big deal,” said the proud papa. “You can imagine how that changed my life. And my nephew came to live with us and that's been crazy, but great. Training has been harder than ever, but better than ever and the resources that I have now allowed me to get on to a different level with my training, so I'm excited about that. And the biggest thing, as you can see, I'm able to drop a weight class now. So it's a lot of good stuff.”

Bryan Battle punches Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Bryan Battle punches Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Hitting his mark at 171 pounds for the bout with Sato, Battle was thinking of dropping from the middleweight division as soon as his weight cut for the Gore fight was over.

“I didn't really have to cut weight and it wasn't something that I was trying to do,” he said. “It was the first time I was training full-time and the weight just kinda fell off. Then after this fight, because of the training, my weight never really yo-yoed back up. So I thought I might make 170 and I knew if I could get to 170 healthy, then that would be the optimal thing for my frame and my fighting style and what I want to do. There are a lot more dudes with clout at 170 that I'd love to fight than there are at 185 right now. So we did a test cut in March, it went well, and I let my manager know, and now we're at 170. So I'm very excited.”

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That decision said a lot about who Battle is as a fighter. Not only is he making the lifestyle sacrifices to drop 15 pounds, but he’s doing it so he can face killers in one of the UFC’s traditionally tough weight classes. That’s called walking the walk. So how did we get here?

“You can learn how to throw a jab, a hook and all the basics,” he said. “You can learn how to do all that in six months. So now that I know how to throw the punches and the kicks, why am I nowhere near these guys over here? What separates me from these guys, and what separates the guys at the top from the guys who are just really good? And that's something I've always thought about. The guys at the top are just the guys who optimize the most - they're the smartest guys.”

Bryan Battle poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 28, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Bryan Battle poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 28, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

The 27-year-old from North Carolina is finding that path right on time, and he expects to show it against Sato. And the fact that he’s doing it on the same night that a new pair of Ultimate Fighters are crowned, well, that’s just a coincidence, one that sits just right with Battle, who has been paying attention to the 30th season, even if he’s not completely caught up yet. 

“I have to binge watch the second half of the season,” he laughs. “Me and my wife want to watch it together, so it's one of those things where all the stars have to align before we get to watch it. But just seeing everyone in the house, and the house in and of itself, it's like, 'Oh my goodness.' But the further I get away from it, the more I realize how much I learned from it. That's the crazy thing.”

Being locked away from the world on a reality television show where you have to fight people to progress and win the competition is crazy, but it’s the kind of crazy Battle embraced, knowing that a win on TUF would accelerate his path to the UFC, and it did just that. And while things have been hectic since he first entered the house in Vegas, he’s trying to take everything in and take note of all the stories he’ll get to tell one day.

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Bryan Battle Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland
Bryan Battle Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland
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“Sometimes it's almost like an accident because you look back and things happen so fast, whether it's just life or the fight game,” he said. “Things happen so fast that I basically live day to day and take things one day at a time. I'm in the moment and that's all I can manage to do with all the stuff that's constantly going on. But whenever I do reflect on it, I think about how crazy it was and how fortunate I was to have the opportunities I did. I'm just thankful that the people around me had the foresight to show me how to work hard so I was prepared for those opportunities. So I gotta enjoy it, but I gotta keep going, too. I've got more things to do. I look forward to the end of the road, though, to one day when my career is done, and I get to put my gloves down in the cage and I just get to be an old man and brag about it to my grandkids. That's the day I'm looking forward to the most.”

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Battle has a long way to go until then, with plenty of fights to win and belts to chase. And for the Formula 1 racing fan, there is a distinct plan he needs to stick to in order to reach all his goals.

“In Formula 1, you need the best driver to win,” he said. “But you also need the best car. There's a difference in the cars and if you don't have the best car, even if you're the best driver in the world, your chances to win get dramatically harder. My brain is my driver, and my body is my car. I've gotta have my car in peak condition and I gotta have my brain in peak condition so I can perform to the best of my ability.”

UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Hill took place on August 6, 2022 live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass