As Rob Font left Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum last December, momentum was on his side. The bantamweight contender was coming off a shutout three-round decision over Sergio Pettis, and it looked like 2019 was going to be the year he made his run at 135-pound gold.
Until it wasn’t.
“I’m trying to forget 2019, man,” Font laughs. He can laugh now because he’s actually going to be stepping into the Octagon for the first time this year on Saturday when he meets Ricky Simon in Washington, D.C. At least he hopes that’s the case.
“I’m not a hundred percent convinced I’m fighting until I walk into that cage,” he said, and it’s not clear whether he’s still joking or not.
It’s understandable, given the fact that two fights that could have propelled him into the title conversation or at least further up the top ten collapsed, leaving him frustrated and more than eager to punch someone in the face this weekend.
First it was supposed to be a bout against Cody Stamann in June. That bout was scrapped when Stamann was forced out due to injury. In stepped Brazilian banger John Lineker and this was an even more attractive bout for Font because it was a chance to erase a 2016 loss to “Hands of Stone.” But again, that fight didn’t come off when Lineker was removed from the bout on weigh-in day. That left Font without a fight, and with his 135-pound peers in and around the top 15 booked, he had to wait.
That’s not to say he sat around. Instead, he made the time off work for him.
“Obviously without fighting I didn’t take any damage, so that’s a good thing,” said the 32-year-old. “And I definitely got the chance to get better as far as wrestling and jiu-jitsu and striking because all I had to do was train. I had nothing to look forward to; all it was about was getting better. And then obviously when I got this opponent, we focused on him a little bit more than just training, but I’m feeling good. I did a couple BJJ tournaments and tried to stay busy with teaching here and there and giving some seminars.”
About the only negative was having to miss Thanksgiving…again.
“This is my fifth Thanksgiving I haven’t really sat down and ate a good plate,” he said. “I’m always fighting around the holidays and it sucks. I don’t even believe in Thanksgiving no more. (Laughs) I pretty much make an appearance, say what’s up, I hide from everybody and then I just go to the gym and hang out.”
It’s the fighter’s life, and one the 32-year-old from Woburn still embraces because despite 2019 not working out as he expected, the year’s not over yet, and if he can issue Simon the kind of defeat Urijah Faber handed him in July, that’s ending on a high note and maybe even worth missing some turkey and pernil at Thanksgiving.
“I do want to crack him, get him into that familiar space where he gets hit and it brings him back to that Faber fight,” said Font. “But he’s tough and he’s gonna be there for three rounds, so if I crack him early, it’s gonna be shot for shot; if not, I’m ready for three rounds.”
He’s also ready for a more than active 2020.
“(UFC matchmaker) Sean (Shelby) told me he’ll keep me busy, so I’m hoping to put this kid away and get right back in there as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ll be ready for the next card (UFC 245) the next week if anybody falls out in the Jose Aldo-Marlon Moraes or Urijah Faber-Petr Yan fights. Obviously I don’t want anything to happen to those fights, but if it does, I’m the guy to call.”