When your fight name is derived from the sound of your punches and kicks landing, you may just have a future in MMA. Austin Hubbard (whose nickname is “Thud”) is just days away from his UFC debut on the UFC Fight Night 152 card in Rochester, New York.
Who is Austin Hubbard?
Rochester is a good distance from Hubbard’s hometown of Sterling, Illinois. The lightweight fighter is now one of more than a handful of UFC fighters training out of Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado.
“I moved to Denver after training here a week. Originally, I was going to move to Milwaukee for training, but then I tried out with Elevation Fight Team,” said Hubbard. “I knew they were a really good team and I was going to have to try out. I didn’t know what to expect, but after a week in Denver, I got home to Illinois on Sunday and put in for a work transfer on Monday.”
At the time, Hubbard was working at a Walmart distribution center stacking boxes. There are a lot of things fighters will do to make life work with training. Whether it is Uber driving, working security or walking dogs, the fight life is a struggle between paychecks, especially when you are fighting on smaller shows while climbing the ranks to get to the top.
Elevating the Level
“The team was super welcoming. Drew (Dober) and Neil (Magny) were getting ready for fights, so I worked with them a lot,” said Hubbard. “Neil helped me with a place to stay. Neil is not only the person who allowed me to move here, but he has also been a mentor every step of the way. He sets such a great example for anyone both in the cage and in life.
There were so many people here around my size to train with and that was really important. Everything just felt right; the city, the mountains, and the team.
Elevation Fight Team is really the main reason I am where I am today and I’m about to have my first UFC fight. I have learned a lot from my teammates and coaches, especially coach Vinny Lopez. He has helped so much with my striking, which I always felt was my weakest part. And now I feel like it is one of my strongest.”
Criminal Justice to Punching Faces
Austin Hubbard has always been an active athlete, playing sports all through high school including wrestling and football. On a side note, Hubbard also has a killer arm for dodgeball, which is the team’s warm-up of choice before every Thursday practice.
When Hubbard went to college to earn his Criminal Justice degree, his school did not have teams for football or wrestling. Out of boredom, he signed up at the local MMA gym to stay busy and not get fat.
Maybe that criminal justice degree will help keep Hubbard out of trouble, but he hopes that fighting will pay the bills.
Getting the UFC Call
“My manager kept saying that he would get me in before June. At the very least I would get a shot on the Contender Series. I was offered a fight on the April 26 LFA card to defend the lightweight title. My coaches said no. and wow, it was really hard to turn down a fight. I felt like I was being a b*tch about it.
The UFC kept filling in slots for 155. I was thinking that maybe I did need to get in on Contender Series to get my shot or take another LFA fight to prove myself. At that point, I was giving up on getting the call and I was getting discouraged.
I was walking my dog when my manager called. He had told me a few hours earlier that the UFC offered the fight with Davi Ramos to someone else. If that person didn’t take it, they would offer it to me. But why would someone not take the UFC fight? At that point, I was really regretting not taking the LFA fight. Hours went by and I figured my manager was calling to let me know that the other guy took the fight. Instead, he asked ‘What you doing in May ?’ I said ‘Hopefully beating someone up…!”
Austin “Thud” Hubbard is no stranger to being backstage at UFC events. He has served as a cornerman multiple times, which he thinks is an advantage going into his debut.
“I’ve made the walk, though not as a fighter,” said Hubbard. “I know what to do and how it works. I train with a lot of guys at that level and being around them has made a big difference in my level of confidence, which is going to show in the octagon”
Watch Austin Hubbard face off against Davi Ramos on May 18th live on ESPN + and follow Austin on: