Undefeated bantamweight Dustin Lampros carries a winner’s mentality with him everywhere he goes. The Illinois native owns a perfect finish rate since turning pro and he’s just getting started.
Appearing on the most recent chapter of The Ultimate Fighter was something that “Scrappy” truly spoke into existence. The results inside the cage didn’t go as planned, but he’s using that adversity as fuel and motivation to become an even better version of his current self. In this exclusive conversation with Lampros, we discuss the TUF 29 casting process, what he learned from Alexander Volkanovski and his coaching staff, his current training focuses, and much more.
The fan-favorite show The Ultimate Fighter returned with its 29th installment earlier this summer following a three-year hiatus. It just so happened that this season would feature both middleweights and bantamweights, Lampros’s division. The 27-year-old knew it was his time to live out his lifelong dream of appearing on TUF.
Dustin Lampros Interview
“This is perfect I have to be on it,” Lampros said after discovering TUF 29 featured bantamweights. “I’m undefeated with all finishes. I was like ‘this is perfect, it’s meant to be’. So after they weren’t sure if they were gonna do it, they hit us back up saying they were gonna look at the applicants in February/March. There were like 800/900 applicants and then they chose just like 45 to take part in the casting interviews. Then, out of 13 bantamweights they came around to everyone’s room and chose eight of us.”
The fact that any of the weight classes could’ve been chosen for TUF 29 and they just so happened to choose bantamweights only adds to the “meant to be” mantra for Lampros.
“Yo it’s literally a dream come true,” he replied, “I’ve talked about wanting to be on The Ultimate Fighter since fifth or sixth grade when it came out. I’ve always wanted to do it then they pick my weight class, it’s like I spoke it into existence. Then when they were originally supposed to start filming I test positive for COVID. I get really sick for like two weeks. I was freaking out and then we get the call that they pushed it back to a later date. That’s when I really believed that it was meant to be.”
Volkanovski Picking Him
With Volkanovski’s second bantamweight selection, the featherweight champ drafted Lampros to join his team. “Scrappy” didn’t necessarily expect it, but he was ecstatic to be fortunate to learn from Volkanovski and his coaching staff.
“I thought I was gonna be picked by (Brian) Ortega because Ortega’s management hit me up before and mentioned they were probably picking me,” Lampros stated. “So my head was set on being on Ortega’s team, not that I really cared because they’re both great. It worked out cause Volk is more my style and size. Getting to train with him and Craig Jones and the rest of his coaching staff that lead him to a world title was really cool.”
“The way that Volkanovski is always in a position to strike is overlooked,” he said. “His positioning to strike at all times is always on point. I really learned a lot from him. He’s really big on line drills and tightening up the footwork. I’m a really aggressive fighter so maintaining tight footwork and keeping my hands up is really important.”
Lampros’s aggressive style was on full display in his quarterfinal fight against Vince Murdock. Although the result didn’t go his way, he’s learned valuable lessons from the fight that will surely make him a better mixed martial artist.
“Like in my last fight, I got a little too comfortable and too relaxed,” he confirmed, “I thought for sure I was gonna kill the guy, which led to me getting caught. Fighting with my hands down, backing him up, and not giving him respect. You learn from that whole thing that everyone at the highest level can hit that button. There’s no doubt in my mind that I beat him nine out of ten times. I don’t ever fight with my hands down like that. I was just so confident, I thought for sure I had it. I’m still gonna be the same aggressive fighter. I’d bet my whole purse that I get a knockout in my next fight, that’s how confident I am.”
Dustin Lampros has a right to be confident in his abilities because he’s been nothing short of dominant upon turning pro. Five finishes in as many outings, with four coming in the opening round gives “Scrappy” all the confidence he needs.
“I was always a football and baseball player who wanted to fight,” Lampros affirmed. “I met Tyron Woodley at a church when I was a kid and told him I wanted to get involved in fighting. Years later we swung by his new gym. My first fight was so quick, then my second fight I was 18 fighting a 26-year-old guy. I beat his ass in the first round then had an adrenaline dump in the second round and lost. To be honest with you, I didn’t even consider myself a full-time fighter until a year before I turned pro. That’s when I decided to take things to the next level and the results speak for themselves.”
Not only has Lampros exuded his far-reaching talents, but his heart and will to win have been exemplified on several occasions. Even in his TUF 29 fight against Murdock.
“Even though I say I was out in that fight against Vincent,” he began, “You see that I never stop getting up. The whole time, hit me, boom I bounce back up. Crack-crack-crack takes the fight to the mat, gets right back up. Knee me in the head I try getting right back up. That right there is what I have in me. Even on autopilot, I’m like let’s get it. You better come in there trying to kill me if you want to beat me.”
“Scrappy” comes to fight each and every time he steps inside the cage. He’s now spent several years down in Florida making gains at the renowned Sanford MMA. Lampros is taking what he learned on TUF and bringing it into the gym day in and day out.
“I’m still trying to get my distance and boxing down,” Lampros answered. “It’s more my distance. More or less it’s me getting crisper on the feet because obviously when I fight I like to fight. I don’t like to try and take people down and hump them, nah let’s fight. Focused on keeping my distance and controlling my pressure. I’m a very calm fighter, regardless of what it looks like. I’m super relaxed in there. It’s just my style is let’s get after it.”
As a mixed martial artist fan first and foremost, Lampros’s fighting style is a joy to watch. The 27-year-old bantamweight is going to have a long, successful career in this sport. Be sure to keep an eye out for when Lampros graces the cage next because it’s guaranteed action.
If you enjoyed this Dustin Lampros interview, be sure to check back for more exclusive conversations with the world’s greatest mixed martial artists.
Ryan Truland is an MMA writer who conducts interviews with athletes, provides creative pieces, and whatever else is needed to keep readers up to date on the latest and greatest MMA news.