Darian Weeks could have had a summer trip to Paris. It didn’t happen.
“I did almost get to France,” he laughs. “We'll have to wait until next time, I guess.”
Welcome to the fight game, a place the Missouri welterweight is quite used to after 19 amateur and seven pro bouts, so when a September 3 fight in France against Cedric Doumbe turned into a September 10 fight in Las Vegas against Yohan Lainesse, the 28-year-old didn’t stress about it. In fact, he’s happy to be fighting on the same UFC 279 card as Nate Diaz.
“It would have been great to go out there,” he said. “But, at the same time, I get to fight on a Nate Diaz card, so you can't be upset about that fact at all.”
A fan of Stockton’s finest, I take it?
“I don't know many fighters who aren't,” said Weeks, who has a way to go to match Diaz’ longevity in the UFC, but two fights in, he’s showed he belongs, even if he lost on the scorecards to Bryan Barberena and Ian Machado Garry. As for fight number three, he’s not feeling pressure to win; he wants to win for himself.
“Those were two fights in a row, especially when you're in the UFC, you want to win,” said Weeks. “That's the number one thing that comes to your mind. But as far as saying, 'I need to prove something,' I can stand in there with the best of them, I bang with the best of them. This is just a win that I need for myself. I need to get the W because this is what I wanted. This is the dream that I stepped into. I said we're gonna get to the UFC and we're gonna dominate. My first two fights, we have yet to dominate. They were both competitive fights, but I think that was me just getting comfortable with the fact of being there.”
The first fight with Barberena came on just four days’ notice. The second against Garry had a lot of hype behind it because of the Irishman. No excuses, but he’s seen plenty in two fights, and that gives him quite an experience boost against Lainesse, who is also searching for his first UFC victory after a knockout loss to Gabe Green in April took him from the ranks of the unbeaten. On Saturday, Weeks wants to remind him how that last fight went.
“I feel like it's very important,” he said. “We definitely want to go ahead and take that chance and make him question whether this is gonna be like last time. And I feel like as long as we keep a good pressure forward, not giving him any room to relax or get comfortable, as long as we keep that high-paced pressure on him and make sure we're going from one thing to another and really making him have to focus and switch his mindset, I feel like that will be exactly what I'm hoping to do.”
Doubt can turn good fighters into merely average ones, and if you’re the one inflicting that doubt, well, that can take your level in the other direction. That’s what Weeks is aiming for, though he expects some hell from the Canadian early on in their bout.
“I feel like since he lost that last one and he wasn't expecting to, he's gonna come out guns blazing,” he said. “And all we have to do is weather that storm for one round and I feel like after that, he'll start slowly slipping back into thinking, 'You know what, maybe this is like last time.' It may not be like last time. I imagine his skill set should be better, but that mindset is everything, and if we get him thinking that way, he's gonna think that way for the rest of the fight, and that gives us the upper hand.”
UFC 279 Embedded | Episode 5
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UFC 279 Embedded | Episode 5
Sometimes that’s all it takes to turn a losing streak into the start of a winning streak. And Darian Weeks knows plenty about winning. All he has to do is show it to Lainesse and the world.
“I feel like we've gotten used to everything that we need to get used to, and now I feel like this is just gonna show our comfortability and it's gonna show the reason why they brought us to this level in the first place, and that's because we get wins and we get finishes.”