Tony Gravely has been waiting some time for the opportunity to don the UFC gear and make his walk down to the coveted Octagon. The former CES champion has been hearing rumors, reading articles from the media say Gravely was ready for the jump to the big leagues, yet nothing came of it. Gravely did what he needed to do, keep fighting, keep defending his belt and proving why he belongs. On January 25th, Gravely gets to live his dream.
“It feels like another fight, training wise everything feels the same,” Gravely told MyMMAnews. “This is a career change not a training change, I’ve been training as if I’m the best in the world my whole career. My goal is to be the best me I can be in this huge opportunity.”
When it comes to nerves, Gravely isn’t worried about it getting in the way of his dream. This is something Gravely has visualized for years, in his mind he has been in the UFC for years at this point. The Virginian understands that when on the verge of going from prospect to UFC, a loss can send you into MMA purgatory, which is why Gravely’s 7 fight win streak is even more impressive.
“A cage is a cage,” Gravely exclaimed to MyMMAnews. “I could fight in someones backyard and it be the same to me. Now I know the UFC cage isn’t just any cage but at the end of the day nothing is different, a job is a job and I got into auto pilot.”
Tony Gravely will open his UFC career against Brett Johns, a long time contender in the bantamweight division who is coming off of back to back losses. Johns might be coming off 2 losses in a row, but they are the first 2 of his career, and against top competition in the division. Johns is coming off of losses to Pedro Munhoz and Aljamain Sterling, two at the top of the division.
“He’s tough. Lost to top guys in the division, and he’s going to scrap,” Gravely told MyMMAnews. “He will push me to be my best, that is when I’m at my best. He’s never faced anyone with the constant pressure I can bring to a fight.”
Although it is his first UFC fight, Gravely feels no pressure to get a huge finish, in fact Gravely has never looked for a quick finish in his fights. Gravely has always made a point to pressure his opponents, fight the fight until the opponent weakens and eventually quits. It is evident that the UFC has high hopes for Gravely as his first opponent is as legit as they come.
“I feel no pressure to get a finish, I’m going to do what I do and the finish will come, clearly the UFC likes my style or I wouldn’t be fighting for them,” Gravely exclaimed. “I don’t look or think about rankings but it is pretty cool to have a debut fight against someone as legit as Johns. I’m patient but lethal, I’m going in there for a job and finish or not, I’m getting the job done.”
While the UFC debut is special enough, Gravely has another special occasion occuring, a hometown fight. The Virginian has rarely fought at home in his lengthy career. The CES fighter has mostly fought in California and New England but rarely ever in Virginia or the surrounding area.
“The support is amazing. I never feel close to home during fight week because I never am,” Gravely laughed. I’ve fought 24 times and only once at home. Plenty of family and friends are coming to watch live. A lot of them are so excited even more excited than me. It reminds you how special it is to have so much love and support around you.”
Tony Gravely will take on Brett Johns tomorrow at UFC Raleigh in his first UFC which, with a big victory, could land him in the top 15 only one fight into his UFC career. One of the top regional fighters we have seen, time for Gravely to finally make the jump to the UFC cage.