Journey Newson is well aware that starting a UFC career off with a record of 0-2 with 1 NC isn’t a good look. But as he approaches Octagon walk number four against Fernie Garcia on Saturday night, he gets another chance to show that slate doesn’t reflect the fighter he is.
“No, that's not me at all,” said Newson. “Hopefully I get to prove that May 7th.”
That hope has kept him motivated throughout the last 20-plus months he’s waited to return to the Octagon following a loss to Randy Costa in September 2020. Knee problems had him sidelined for a while after the bout, but once he got the green light to resume training, he was ready to roll. Not that you heard that from him on social media.
“I'm not really big on that,” he laughs. “I'm an introvert, so I stick to my training and we'll sit here and do video and stuff like that, but I barely post stuff.”
So, no desire to see how the other half lives?
“That's not my game, but I get why people do that,” he explains. “Maybe at a certain level I'll start doing it, after I get a couple wins under my belt. I don't see myself doing it, but things can change. You never know. You never know which opponent's gonna say what and then you gotta say something and then it becomes this all-out war over talking until we actually fight.”
The 33-year-old is clearly not interested in the fight before the fight. He’s a martial artist, one who earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt while on the sidelines, and his time away was spent training, not honing his TikTok game.
“It was light training at first because of my knee injury, but we were still in the gym two to three times a day,” he said. “And since, we've been working with guys at ATT Portland. They've been refining my game a little bit more as well, so I'm excited for this fight, for new things to come out and I'm hoping that these new things that I've learned come out and I can show them in the fight.”
Take away his 41-second knockout loss to Costa the last time out, something he says, “I've made peace with,” and Newson has shown the potential to make noise in a crowded bantamweight division. Debuting on short notice against Ricardo Ramos in June 2019, he pushed the Brazilian all three rounds before losing a decision.
“The first fight we had with Ramos, I made a loss look good,” Newson said. “Not many people would have taken that fight, and obviously nobody did because I'm the one who took it. (Laughs) And to not only take him to a decision, but I almost caught a guillotine. And he threw that spinning back elbow twice at me and I still came back up. I've seen him finish dudes with that. Then we move on to Texas.”
That’s where the commission turned a 38-second knockout victory over Domingo Pilarte into a no contest after Newson tested positive for marijuana. The Oregon product is still a little salty about that one.
“I count that as a win, and I will forever count that as a win. I will tell my children that was a win.”
As for the Costa fight, Newson says, “He's a good dude, he hit me up after the fight, but everyone gets caught. I keep telling myself that. That was my first time ever getting caught out of 25-26 fights, that's not too bad. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. It was just my time.”
And now that’s all in the past, and Newson’s got another chance to make it all right on the sport’s biggest stage. He’s ready, he’s rested, and not lacking in motivation. On Saturday, the only thought is winning.
UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje took place on Saturday, May 7, 2022, live from a sold out Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!