1. Sam Stout (UFC 161) – That was my UFC debut. I took the fight on 16 days’ notice, against Sam Stoudt in Canada. At the time he had only been finished once in the UFC at that was eight years prior. I was a 4-1 or 5-1 underdog. I ended up finishing him with 13 seconds left in the fight. I got a double bonus on top of my fight purse. That fight changed my life in so many different aspects. It changed my life financially, career wise and it catapulted my confidence. That fight, for sure, is number one and it’s not even close.
2. Warlley Alves (UFC Fight Night: Gaethje vs. Vick) – That was my first fight at 170. I opened as a big underdog. Alves was Colby Covington’s only loss at the time. Nobody thought that I would win that fight. I came in and I feel like it was my coming out party. I had a chance to show everybody. It was the first time in my career that I stepped out of the cage and I thought ‘this is what I can do. This is me.’ I can finally show and tell everyone that this is what I am capable of. That is a good one for me.
3. Donald Cerrone (WEC 41) – I didn’t win this fight but it taught me a lot about myself. It was just too soon for me. I was 10-0 going into it. I fought a bunch of local guys. I went from fighting local guys to fighting Donald Cerrone on two weeks’ notice. It was in Arco Arena where the Sacramento Kings play. I had never fought in front of more than 1,500 people before. It leveled me up in a few ways. I didn’t win but I showed myself that I could compete at that level. It was a phenomenal learning experience for me. I learned how to pace in that fight. I had a hellacious pace. I came out sprinting. You can’t keep that up. Since that fight I have always came out calmer. I think one of my best assets is poise and I feel like I learned that from this fight. Just relax. Don’t try to force anything.
4. Joe Jordan (RFA 5) – He was a durable guy. No matter what I couldn’t put him away. I was head kicking him. I punched him, hit him flush with some great shots. It was the first fight where I started to find my swag. I fight with a chip on my shoulder. I fight with a little rhythm and that was the fight that I felt like I really settled into a fight and started to feel that.
5. Jorge Masvidal (UFC 178) – If I could do this list over I would put this fight higher. This should be number three. I fought some really good guys before people knew they were really good. I fought Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, Ricardo Lamas and a lot of other guys before people knew they were good. If you look back at the Masvidal fight, it was really competitive. We were going back and forth. I still feel like he was the best guy I ever fought. What I learned was what being a veteran means in a fight. He is the definition of a veteran, man. If you are pacing at a level 6, he is pacing at a 6.5. If you turn it down to a 4 he turns it down to a 4.5. If you wrestle, he wrestles a little bit harder. He is really good at staying one step ahead of you. He is the toughest guy I ever fought. I feel like he is just now starting to get his notoriety. He leveled me up in terms of fight IQ. I really appreciated the fight with him.