By the time Niko Price finished his interview with UFC.com during his media obligations on Wednesday, you would have thought he was about to make the walk through the tunnel and into the Octagon.
The interview lasted only eight minutes. Price walked into the room and felt a little chilly, but when he left he was sweating. The cause? Talking about his upcoming fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 11.
“This is a glorious dream fight,” Price said. “I dreamed about this fight before I was in the UFC. The second he (Cowboy) went to welterweight I knew we could cross paths. So I started studying him more. It’s a blessing.”
Niko Price: Every UFC Finish
Niko Price: Every UFC Finish
At times, Price had to compose himself before answering a question because he was so giddy about the matchup. Who would have thought it was possible to be more excited about this fight than when the MMA community first heard of it?
“They wanted me versus him. That’s so cool. It’s a stylistic clash of awesomeness,” Price said. “I want to get in there and bang with another banger. I keep reminiscing but I just want to get in there and do it already.”
There are two main reasons for Price’s exuberance. First, he’s fighting a legend. Cerrone is the gold standard for the fighter with the type of style that Price emulates. Which brings up the second reason, as Price is being given the opportunity to stand and bang with someone who loves it just as much as him.
“I guarantee we’ll do something cool,” Price said. “Something spectacular is going to happen. 50k is coming. There’s some cool s*** in my head.”
If you’ve watched any Niko Price fight over the last four years he’s been in the UFC, he doesn’t need Cerrone – or anyone – as means for motivation.
Price has consistently been one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster, and the proof is in the bonuses. He has four Performance of the Night honors in his last five wins. He’s 6-4-1 in the UFC but none of his fights have gone the distance and only one has made it to the third round. In fact, only one of his 19 professional fights has gone all three rounds.
“I had a decision as an amateur and I was like, nine minutes wasn’t fun,” Price said. “So I’ve been trying to get out of there in three minutes as an amateur and now five minutes as a pro. I don’t like the later rounds. It’s not because I can’t hang, it’s just unnecessary damage. I don’t mind getting hit but they (the later rounds) can take off a couple years of your career.”
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Even more impressive is Price’s ability to rebound off a loss. He’s never suffered back-to-back defeats, which is a feat he’ll again put to the test this weekend after falling to Vicente Luque his last time out at UFC 249. When you consider his thrilling fighting style that leads to nonstop action, it’s an even greater testament to not feeling the pressure of a losing streak.
“You don’t want to feel that again. I work my butt off and you train 10 times harder (after a loss),” Price said. “I’m never training to not win, but when you get a loss you sacrifice a little extra. It’s healing for the soul. I’m not in a rush. Take my career, take in these sights and have a blast. It’s not much pressure for me. I accept it all.”
On top of the adrenaline and excitement that has come with his matchup against “Cowboy,” Price plans to make it a learning experience as well.
“He has so much experience. When I fought Tim Means it was cool. When you hit the guys with experience their faces don’t change. They have no emotion,” Price said. I’m excited to see how he takes it when he gets hit and then maybe adjust my style off his and steal some more tactics.”