When Boston Salmon was awarded a contract on the first-ever episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, nobody, least of all Salmon, thought it would be nearly two years until audiences saw him in the Octagon again.
But injuries and withdrawn opponents altered his plans and postponed his UFC debut.
“I thought was gonna get a fight right after that,” he explains. “But unfortunately things didn't go my way, you know? I injured my knee, got surgery and back now. I'm healthy. I'm ready to go.”
Still, while he’s eager to get back in the game, he doesn’t display the slightest hint of bitterness at his protracted entry into the promotion. On the contrary, he’s thrilled to be making his inaugural scrap on the same card headlined by his childhood friend, Max Holloway, as he endeavors to be the latest threat in the simmering “Hawaiian Wave.”
UFC: You were the first contract winner on the first episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. When you think back to that night, what do you remember the most?
Boston Salmon: Going into the fight, I had no idea was going on, you know? It was a small venue, small fan base, not a lot of people in the gym. I didn't really know what to expect. I wasn't trying to impress anyone, and I went out there and performed and got the contract. I was excited and I was blessed to be fighting for the UFC.
Contender Series I was fighting on one leg, so if you guys thought that was exciting, wait until you see UFC 236. I’ll be in there with two legs. I’ll be kicking, I’ll be punching, I’ll be elbowing. I might even be on the ground with my takedowns and my explosiveness…you never know.
UFC: Obviously you didn’t expect it to take this long to get your first official UFC fight. How did you deal with the layoff mentally?
BS: It’s tough, man. That whole year and a half was a tough rehab process here at the UFC Performance Institute. I was thankful and blessed to have [UFC PI physical therapists] Bobby Gaisford and Heather Linden got my whole rehab process of getting my knee back to working a full 100 percent. I was fortunate to have Bo [Sandoval] and Matt [Crawley] as my strength and conditioning coaches to get me healthy and in shape again.
UFC: You’re sharing the card with your friend Max Holloway. What do you remember about growing up with him in Hawaii?
BS: Me and Max Holloway played baseball, you know, I slept at his Grandma's house that he lived in. My dad used to pick us up to go on baseball trips, scouting other teams just to get a little insight on them. We grew up in the same community. Same family. Same friends and. And so it's a pleasure to be on the same card as him. Hawaii is gonna be in the house, expect that.
UFC: How does it feel to be part of the “Hawaiian Wave”?
BS: I believe UFC Hawaii is going to happen eventually in the future, and it would be a blessed opportunity for all of us to be on that card. All the Hawaiians.
UFC: You have a unique story about how you met Dana White. Can you tell it again for the folks who haven’t heard it?
BS: Fun fact – I actually met Dana when I was working valet at The Palms [Casino, in Las Vegas]. He would always come in and take care of us, no matter what.
I valeted his card and I told him “Hey, I’m gonna be fighting on your show one day. You’re going to remember me. You’re gonna remember the name Boston Salmon.”
Steve Latrell is a writer and producer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheUFSteve