Interview with Joe Solecki above
Joe Solecki always bets on himself when his fights go to the ground.
The 26-year-old owns six submission victories and showcased his ground-game in a unanimous decision win against longtime veteran Matt Wiman in his UFC debut in December 2019.
He faces a new challenge in Austin Hubbard at UFC on ESPN 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, June 20. Hubbard has four losses, but has only been finished once in 15 professional bouts.
Solecki can’t guarantee a submission win, but expects to be the better grappler at the UFC Apex come June 20.
“Does it mean I am going to submit him? I don’t put all my eggs in one basket because some guys are just really good at staying out of stuff,” Solecki said.
“If we get on the ground, I know I can control. I know I am going to be better than a lot of guys. He’ll [Hubbard] leave an opening for sure.”
The ground game
Solecki’s slick submission game is what earned him a UFC contract. He made quick work of James Wallace with a first-round guillotine choke on Dana White’s Contender Series in July 2019.
Solecki then followed it up with three-impressive rounds against a 17-time octagon veteran in Wiman. The New Jersey native finished four of five takedown attempts and controlled 12 minutes of a 15-minute bout.
Solecki entered that fight with an open mind, knowing a submission would be hard to come by. He shares a similar feeling toward Hubbard. Hubbard also brings new challenges Solecki is yet to see in the UFC.
“Like Wiman, same thing. I wasn’t hell bent on submitting him, but I knew I could really put him into a box on the ground,” Solecki said. “Those fights, it was pretty certain we were going to end up grappling at some point. This fight, I really don’t know, it really depends on where the fight goes.”
Hubbard holds one victory in three fights inside the octagon. He earned a unanimous decision against Kyle Prepolec at UFC on ESPN+ 16 in September 2019. Hubbard most recently dropped a unanimous decision to Mark O. Madsen at UFC 248 on March 7.
Hubbard’s only submission loss came a little less than four years ago. Hubbard is also no stranger to going the distance, completing all three rounds in six of his last seven bouts.
Solecki is familiar with Hubbard. The North Carolina resident watched all of Habbard’s UFC fights and some of his previous bouts outside of the octagon.
Hubbard’s unanimous decision loss to Davi Ramos at UFC on ESPN+ 10 in May 2019 is one that stands out to Solecki.
“He’s [Hubbard] not going anywhere, this is a hard-nosed dude. I’ve seen him get cracked in fights, I’ve seen Dali Ramos put him in a choke, on his face, crushing, he didn’t even flinch. He’s a tough, tough guy,” Solecki said. “This is a really good test for me, I can test my skill set, my fight I.Q. and get in there with somebody who is trying to do the same thing, we’re trying to climb the ranks.”
Solecki’s next UFC test is a young prospect like himself. Hubbard is just two years older at 28 and only holds four more professional fights than Solecki.
Based on Hubbard’s recent performances, he can go the distance. He is looking to see how durable Hubbard is.
At the same time, Joe Solecki is testing himself.
“This is one of those fights where he’s really well rounded and I haven’t gotten a chance to show it, but I really do believe that I am very well rounded. We’re going to have to test our metal in every single department,” Solecki said. “I think it’s a great matchup and it’s something I’m looking forward to, getting in there with another young and hungry guy and kind of looking to best him out there.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.