Back in 2020, UFC heavyweight Josh Parisian made a statement on Dana White’s Contender Series, defeating Chad Johnson via first-round knockout after an onslaught of devastating ground-and-pound.
After securing his sixth consecutive victory and seventh first-round finish of his professional career, Parisian was granted a UFC contract upon the official decision. Since coming into the promotion, Parisian has won two of four inside the Octagon, most recently stopping Alan Baudot in a come from behind victory at UFC Fight Night: Tsarukyan vs Gamrot in June.
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In the first round, Baudot landed a short right hook, stunning Parisian and dropping him to the mat. Parisian weathered the storm and got back to his feet before securing a takedown and winning the remainder of the round.
The second round picked up right where the first left off; Parisian landing a takedown and controlling Baudot with immense top pressure. Parisian hammered away until the referee was forced to step in and stop the fight.
“It was a nice reminder to myself that that I can be hit, be rocked and it doesn’t mean that the fight’s over,” said Parisian, reflecting on his victory over Alan Baudot. “We’re in a fight and it’ll end when it ends, and I can take damage and weather it.”
The performance showed that Parisian could withstand and survive longer than his opponent. Once he got back into training, Parisian identified that his cardio could play dividends in the future, and set out to learn how to best increase his endurance and how to use it inside the Octagon.
“Weaponize cardio,” said Parisian, identifying the point of emphasis during his recent training camp. “I’ve been on the bike and doing everything I can do get my cardio up. I’ve been wearing a heart rate monitor [and] hitting my goals that I want to there.
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“People like the way I fight; I strike, I don’t stop and when I’m tired, I just go harder. I think that I [must] continue to keep doing what I’m doing and put on good performances.”
At UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs Blanchfield, Parisian challenges UFC newcomer Jamal Pogues. Like Parisian, Pogues earned his UFC contract through Dana White’s Contender Series, defeating Paulo Renato Jr. back in August in his second stint on the show.
Looking back at his UFC debut, Parisian remembers the pressure and stress that followed him throughout fight week and into the fight itself. Now having four UFC fights under his belt, he believes his composure might pay dividends in this Saturday’s outcome.
“I feel like the people that fight on the Contender Series, whether they get a contract or not, are there or really close to there,” Parisian said comparing Pogues’ past opponents to UFC-caliber contenders. “They wouldn’t be on the show if not. I think that he’s fought guys that might deserve to be here, as well.
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“Contender Series is kind of like the big league; you’re in the same Octagon, the same building. But I will say it’s not the same thing because my first UFC fight was very stressful. It was the hardest thing ever and I know that’s going to take a toll on him. I’m going to be like, ‘I know man, it sucks. The first one sucks.’
“I think what’s going to surprise him is my toughness and not letting him settle me into positions. I’m going to work really hard, and I think my output is going to surprise him.”
Whereas another athlete might have their eyes on climbing the heavyweight rankings and challenging for a title, Parisian’s immediate priorities are focused on his family. Win or lose on Saturday, Parisian just hopes to put on a good enough show for fans to earn a performance bonus and use the additional money to start the process of building a home for his three-year-old daughter.
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“I’m a dad now,” Parisian said. “I do a lot of stuff with [my daughter]. I’m a stay-at-home dad; I do the dishes, I do the laundry. I mean, I try to. My girlfriend does a lot of it and complains when I don’t do it because I’m at home all the time.
“I’m all about the money right now, so I’d really like to get a bonus. My goal right now is to buy a piece of property and us to eventually build a house on it. I’d really like to build a house for my daughter, that would be a huge accomplishment for me.”
UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs Blanchfield took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 18, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!