In his UFC debut, flyweight Jeff Molina put on a performance against his opponent that awarded him a $50,000 bonus, but not in the way that he would like to pick up bonus checks in the future. Molina defeated Aoriqileng by unanimous decision at UFC 261 but felt he took too many shots, especially in the final 10 seconds of the fight.
Recently, Jeff Molina was a guest on the On The Mic podcast and spoke about his UFC debut victory, why he wants to avoid having wild fights as he did at UFC 261, and his approach to moving up the ladder in the flyweight division. With his first fight in the promotion coming at the first event to welcome back a full live crowd for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
With a full house of fans in attendance, Molina picked up his first win and said he felt good about the win, but after having his debut postponed twice, there was a sense of relief as well.
“It feels really good, I’m not gonna lie. It feels good but it’s also a sigh of relief, not that I got it out of the way but man, f**k, I’ve wanted this for so long and so bad, I’m just happy I got to do it. The debut is set, it’s’ done, it’s over. I made a post on fight week and it was like ‘I know I belong here, I just got to prove to the world that I belong here, fighting the very best people.’ I think I did that.”
Getting a bonus in his UFC debut was certainly a plus, but Molina said he’d like to get a performance bonus for himself, rather than a ‘Fight Of the Night’ bonus, which usually signifies a war between two fighters.
“I’ll take it. I want ‘Performance Of the Night’ from here on out, I want longevity in the sport, and I can’t be getting hit that much in my fights. I want to be able to write a check when I’m older and not have problems talking, so I’ll take that as my debut, I’ll take ‘Fight Of the Night’ and I’m going to learn from this, I’ll get better. I shouldn’t be the guy to point to the ground the last 10 seconds and slug it out, I think that may have gotten me the 50Gs, however, that doesn’t give you longevity in the sport.”
Turning heads and getting attention is always a plus for any fighter in the UFC, but for Molina, making noise in the UFC’s flyweight division stands out even more, mainly because it’s a division brought back to life and looking for contenders. With champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno set to rematch from their classic first title fight, the division, which was almost wiped away just a couple of years ago, is open for business looking for new contenders like Molina.
An impressive debut and a division open for opportunity all lines up in Molina’s favor, and while he certainly wants to achieve the highest of success, he’s going to go about it with patience and intelligence.
“You see it time and time again where you get a young guy, talented, puts the time in, but the rise to stardom and the path to the title is too quick. We’ve seen it with lots of guys who are talented but maybe take that leap too quick. You have to realize how this sport works, the very best people in the world are fu**king good. Everyone in the UFC is good. When you get top-10, top-5, they’re really good. So I want to compete with those guys, I know I can do more than compete with those guys, I truly believe I will be world champ.
There’s no point in me fighting a guy ranked 10, getting paid Contender Series contract money, that’s one thing. I want financial freedom from this. Number two, I need to work my way up to those guys. I’m totally fine fighting every single flyweight to make my weigh up in the division. It’ll get me ready for the competiton I’m going to face at the championship level. I’m in no rush.”
Having the understanding that not every young fighter needs to be rushed to the top, and recognizing he wants to keep his long-term health intact, Jeff Molina has all the makings of a future superstar, champion, and role model in the UFC.