Jamey Simmons spoke with MyMMANews about his short-notice UFC debut against Giga Chikadze at UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Santos.
Jamey Simmons arrived in Las Vegas on Monday in preparation for his UFC debut against Giga Chikadze this Saturday. This was a moment Simmons has been waiting for as he knew he would make it into the promotion fairly soon, but to be two weeks separated from his most recent fight and already signed with an extensive deal is surreal to say the least.
Simmons last fought at Caged Aggression 28 against Shawn West, who he defeated by way of rear-naked choke in the second round. Simmons described the fight as the ‘toughest test I’ve had so far’, but he was able to get past his opponent and earn his first professional featherweight championship.
Simmons hoped the performance garnered the attention of the UFC brass, and fortunately for him, it did. About two weeks later, Simmons got the call and was offered not only a short-notice fight against Chikadze but also a four-fight contract. Despite him finally getting his shot, Simmons could not have predicted this would be the way he got it.
“I was hoping that this would be the way I got in, but in a realistic standard, yeah. I figured I was gonna have to do Contender Series or the Ultimate Fighter,” Simmons told MyMMANews. “But even after my last fight, I felt like I was right on the cusp of being signed, so in my interview I said, ‘Hey. I’m hoping this fight right here gets me my shot into the UFC or Contender Series.’ A week later, it happened.
“It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was exactly what I was looking for. Even better than what I was looking for.”
Simmons remained ready in case the UFC did come calling, so he kept his weight low in anticipation. It paid off for him as his weight cut is not something he is particularly worried about as he heads into Saturday night. For this reason, Simmons believes his signing came right on time.
“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, you know,” said Simmons. “I fought two weeks ago. Didn’t really get hurt or anything like that and my weight was under control, so the timing was perfect. I was gonna be able to make weight fairly easily because I had cut down for my weight class two weeks ago and I didn’t really put much weight on since I was anticipating a shot on the Contender Series.”
When he came across the contract and saw the name Chikadze, there was no hesitation for Simmons in signing it. Chikadze is currently unbeaten in the UFC, has a record of 11-2 and has looked solid inside of the Octagon in recent performances, making him a tough opponent for anybody, let alone a newcomer.
Simmons is unfazed by this and expects to put on a show regardless of who stands across from him.
“I knew if I got a short-notice fight for my debut, then it was going to be against a tough kid,” said Simmons. “I’ve obviously seen him fight a couple times in the UFC, so I know he’s a stud, but this is all mine and we’re ready for it.”
The fight announcement for Simmons and Chikadze got a lot of attention with much of it being centered around Simmons’ chances of winning the fight. As of right now, the odds have Simmons as an underdog — a designation he is used to being labeled.
Throughout his amateur career, Simmons says he has been counted out several times, but has always found a way to win. His underdog status against Chikadze is just another prime example of this, so if history does indeed repeat itself, then he sees himself with his hands raised by the end of the night.
“I’ve seen a few things and the way I see it is like the world already knows a little bit about this man, but no one really knows anything about me,” said Simmons. “So, I may be the underdog but that’s because he’s already got a bit of experience in the UFC and he’s been out there. I think I know more about him than he knows about me, so that plays into my advantage.”
When it comes to how the fight plays out, Simmons thinks it will be much like your standard striker versus grappler matchup, but he is comfortable wherever the fight does go. He has been working on both his striking and wrestling over the years with team Pura Vida in Wisconsin, so he is confident in holding his own.
“I’ve definitely evolved as a fighter,” said Simmons. “When I first came in, I was more of a wrestler, but I’ve taken this path for three years to really just polish up my wrestling and focus real hard on my striking. I feel like I’m gonna play the fight wherever it goes. If we’re on our feet, then I’m obviously not going to rush a takedown. I’m comfortable with my hands, but it could go any way.”
Reflecting on his plans when he got to the UFC, Simmons has one step completed. The next step is a work in progress, but one he sees himself accomplishing at some point in his UFC career.
“First step was to get signed by the UFC. Second step is to become world champion.”