UFC heavyweight Josh Parisian thought he had earned a second consecutive victory for the first time in his UFC career in February until Joe Martinez announced the unanimous decision victory for his opponent, Jamal Pogues.
The loss stung. But not only because the Michigan native suffered his third defeat in the UFC, bringing his promotional record to 3-3, but because it cemented that fight week as the worst in his career.
Rewind six days earlier when Parisian touched down in Las Vegas to enjoy everything the city and fight week has to offer. Upon arrival, Parisian began developing symptoms of strep throat that worsened throughout the week.
“That was a fight that I had really bad strep throat that week,” Parisian said. “So many things went bad in that week, and then to go into a fight that went to a decision was tough. I had the worst strep throat of my life. I even went to a hospital when I got home to Michigan the next day and they said, ‘This is the worst strep throat we’ve ever seen in this hospital.’ It was bad. Because of the strep throat I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, drinking water was tough. The day I got to [fight week] I started feeling it.
In addition to already feeling less than optimal throughout the weight cutting process, Parisian said he could only sleep three hours a night and that he had a hard time even drinking or eating. On fight night, Parisian weighed himself at the UFC APEX and was eight pounds lighter than his official weight at Friday’s weigh-ins. And to make matters worse, even after rewatching the fight, Parisian believes in his core that he should’ve had his hand raised on fight night.
“What I took away from it was how well my conditioning has developed and how my composure is coming together,” Parisian said. “I was very concerned about what I had. I didn’t know how hard I could push with all things considered. I didn’t push it hard in the first round, pushed it a little bit more in the second, and the third round is when I finally took him down and spent more energy. I didn’t know what I had, so I didn’t want to go in there and be dead in the first round and lose. I was trying to be conservative. But I know even with all that, I had the condition to go all three rounds with a guy like that. I believe I won the fight. Now I’m coming in and I feel amazing; I’ve been eating, sleeping, I’m hydrated.”
As of Thursday afternoon, when Parisian sat down with UFC.com, he said he feels the best he ever has in his career, and that he’s coming off an 16-week training camp that’s produced the best version of Josh Parisian to date.
Originally scheduled to fight Walt Harris in July, Parisian was left without a dance partner when Harris was removed from the bout by USADA for potential anti-doping violations. Coming off a 12-week camp for Harris, Parisian continued training, hoping to hear from the UFC about a new opponent.
Fortunately for Parisian, he didn’t have to wait long. Martin Buday needed an opponent for this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Dos Anjos, and Parisian was more than ready to accept on short notice.
Short notice might not be the best way to describe Parisian’s decision, however, since he picked up his training camp right where it left off when Harris was removed from the bout in July, so Parisian enters Saturday’s contest off a 16-week training camp.
It was tough when I first heard the news,” Parisian said regarding his cancelled bout. “Just because a big change like that, when you train 12 weeks for one opponent being a southpaw, I’m circling a different way from the power. Now, who am I going to get? It was tough. I was training for somebody who wasn’t a wrestler, maybe I get a wrestler next. So, it was anxiety-provoking the moment I was going through it, but when we got back [to the gym] we had a good plan to continue the training and not burn out.
“I had a phenomenal camp. My camp for this was the best camp I’ve ever had and that’s because of my respect for Walt Harris. I respected him so much that it truly made me a better athlete, a better fighter. I went leaps and bounds [forward] in this camp than I ever had in a camp before. [Buday] is getting a real good Josh Parisian.”
Buday enters this bout on an 11-fight win streak dating back to 2017. Fighting out of Slovakia, Buday, like Parisian, made his mark on Dana White’s Contender Series and has since proven he’s one of the division’s rising stars by collecting three consecutive UFC wins against Jake Collier, Lukasz Brzeski and Chris Barnett.
Even though Buday’s been a dominant force in the UFC for the last two years, Parisian believes he’s a one-dimensional fighter, allowing him to tailor the final month of his training camp to learn how to neutralize his opponent’s offense.
“I think he’s very limited in what he does,” Parisian said. “He’s predictable, but he does it well. There’s power in that. You’re going to do something, everyone knows you’re going to do it, but you [still] do it well. As far as my training, that makes it easy to train for because I know exactly what he’s going to bring to the table, but I have to do what 12 other people couldn’t do. I have to stop it.”
Not only does Parisian want to add another win to his resume, but he also wants to show the world what he’s truly capable of. In the gym, Parisian believes he’s a championship caliber athlete, and he hopes to prove that to his fans when the lights are on him Saturday night.
“What I want is to be even a fraction of what I am in the gym; the way I move, the way I mix it up and how good of a fighter I actually am,” Parisian said. “If people see a fraction of what I’m capable of, they’re going to know that I’m somebody that’s going to climb and somebody that’s going to make it.”
UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Dos Anjos took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on August 12, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!