On August 7, 2018, Alex Gilpin walked into the UFC’s Training Center in Las Vegas and handled his business submitting JR Coughran in the second round via D’Arce choke. But it wasn’t enough for Dana White as he didn’t award a UFC contract to the 12-1 fighter. For Gilpin not getting the contract was disappointing and frustrating, but he wasn’t going to sulk about it.
“The trend the entire season or the season before, you win you’re likely to get signed, you get a finish it’s almost a guarantee. There were several other finishes on the card, I had a tough opponent, that wasn’t really taken into consideration. Didn’t get the contract, was disappointed for about five minutes then realized what can you do about it?”
After the fight, Gilpin took his time to heal from an injury he suffered in the fight, got his weight under control to get ready for a short notice opportunity with the UFC. While he believes the opportunity would’ve came, Gilpin decided he was tired of waiting and he asked his manager to seek out a fight for him in the meantime or an opportunity with another large promotion and that opportunity came from the Professional Fighters League, for whom he will make his PFL debut on May 23 at PFL 2 which will air on ESPN Plus and ESPN 2.
“My manager, Joshua Sterry, reached out to a couple of organizations and after months went by, I wanted to stay a little busy and fight or maybe look to be a part of the next season here (PFL) and reached out to Ray and originally I was supposed to be an alternate. And then they decided to go with me last minute so here we are.”
The former University of Wisconsin wrestler (only wrestled for Wisconsin for one year) is not getting any favors as he is facing form Ohio State Buckeye and season one PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer in his first regular season matchup but Gilpin wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I’m very happy, I don’t want to come in any other way. He’s tough, I know he’s a great wrestler, he’d be tough on top, he’s a champ for a reason, he stuck to his game plan and got the job done. I think I’m a very tough matchup for him though and I’ll get the job done on Thursday.”
Palmer, ironically was someone that Gilpin looked up to when he was wrestling and at the beginning of his fight career.
“I actually knew him when I was in high school, saw some of his matches, he’s a tough dude I looked up to him when I was first coming up in the sport.”
The 27-year-old fighter out of Wisconsin, formerly of San Antonio, TX believes he is a tough matchup for Palmer and he doesn’t see Palmer’s wrestling as a big threat to him due to his movement, his own wrestling and his submission game.
“My movement and I can wrestle myself, my submission isn’t a joke as you can see in any of my fights before and it’s still improving.”
Gilpin isn’t kidding when says his submission game isn’t a joke, in his 12 professional victories, six have come via submission including his last two wins. But he isn’t counting on Palmer trying to wrestle him.
“Maybe he’ll stand up a bit, he’s not just a wrestler. I know he’s been working with Mark Henry and those guys a little bit. Maybe he’s got less to lose now that he has all that money in the bank, maybe he’ll come out firing, maybe he won’t wrestle, I’m just prepared for anything.
The young featherweight is an underdog as he is facing the defending champion, but that means very little to him.
“I like it a little bit, people tell me I got nothing to lose, I got a little bit to lose, I’m not coming here to be big brothered. I got a lot on my plate as well. If you really look at it, I am the underdog and I’ll take that spot. I’ll be firing off, I’ll be more aggressive than normal, I won’t be holding back, I’ve got that going for me. I don’t really look too much into that.”
Because of his aggressiveness and willingness to go for it, Gilpin expects not only to defeat Palmer, but to finish him.
“Knockout or submission within three rounds.”
Gilpin vs. Palmer will take place as the main event of PFL 2 on May 23 in Long Island, NY. The PFL event will air on ESPN Plus and ESPN 2.