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Pandemic or not, UFC’s Joe Solecki wants a fight – INTERVIEW

Joe Solecki checks in with MyMMANews

Joe Solecki has his reasons for fighting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solecki and his wife, Kacey are expecting their first child in September. It’s giving him all the more purpose to fight during a time of uncertainty.

“I think the second I heard that heartbeat, everything changed…It’s not about me, it’s about my wife, our baby and their lives,” Solecki said. “You go to work when you have a chance to work, especially in a time like this.”

Sign Solecki up

The UFC lightweight is eying a return to the octagon in late spring or early summer. With panic surrounding the virus, UFC President Dana White’s efforts to put on UFC 249 is being highly criticized on social media, both negatively and positively. 

Solecki appreciates his boss’s perseverance during this period. With the UFC closing in on a temporary-venue on the West Coast, along with talks of holding other events on a private island, Solecki wants in.

Fighting as an independent contractor, the 26-year-old continues to train and keep in contact with UFC matchmakers. He is dealing with many of the restrictions that come with social distancing in his home of North Carolina, but the time to fight is now.

“You almost think that when you’re a pro athlete like, ‘My first contract isn’t that great, but I’m a pro athlete now, I’ll be alright,’” Solecki said. “I’m not, that’s the first thing to go because that’s a luxury. That was a little scary, so once they announced it last night [Monday], yeah, I was almost like, ‘Thank God that we are able to keep doing what we are doing.’”

 

Providing

Solecki anticipated fighting twice before the due date of his daughter. The pandemic is not helping him achieve that, but it’s not stopping him from reaching out to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby.

The lightweight contender is confident he will fight no later than mid-summer this year.

“I was always doing this for us to have a family,” Solecki said. “In times like this especially, this is bigger than my ego, being champion one day, protecting my record or anything like that, it’s a job first and foremost.”

Adapting

Solecki wanted to continue his four-fight win streak into UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus, Ohio. He tried to step in at the last minute on the March 28 card, but nothing came out of it. 

The lightweight continues to train with a tight-knit group, including his head coach John Salter and training partner Zack Deleon. Nick Mazz and Brendan Haneesy are also holding pads for Solecki, even if it’s in a parking lot. 

Cops were called on Solecki and his partners at the gym during one of their private-training sessions during the pandemic. Solecki is finding other options like training outside. He also bought a stationary bike for his house. 

This time is reminding him of doing burpees in his basement as a kid. 

 “I haven’t taken off since my teens and I won’t. If anything, I think I’ll be ahead of the game and it’s a fair fight,” Solecki said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m peaked, if I’m not, if I’m up a weight class, if the other guy is going through the same circumstances, then it’s a fair fight.”

Keep rolling

Joe Solecki earned a UFC contract by submitting James Wallace in the first round of Dana White’s Contender Series on July 9. He made his octagon debut in December 2019, picking up a unanimous decision against veteran Matt Wiman at UFC on ESPN 7.

Solecki is ready to get back into the octagon. He understands how fortunate he is during the pandemic, but needs to fight to make a living. 

Fighting is what he knows. It’s what he needs to do. 

“I worked my whole life to get here [UFC],” Solecki said. “I’m just relieved they are up and running, thankful for the company.”

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