Following his second straight win to kick off 2021 this past March, bantamweight Said Yokub was hoping his career would continue on the upward trajectory it has been going the past four years, but little did he know his next step would be the UFC.
Following Mana Martinez dropping out of his bout with Trevin Jones at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Gastelum on August 21, Yokub stepped in and picked up a third round submission win over Jones in his promotional debut.
“I think I did really good for like four days’ notice,” Yokub told MMAWeekly.com. “I don’t want to compliment myself that much. I can do better than that. It was a good fight for me. I liked it. I’m happy with my performance. But I can get better and better.”
While he wasn’t training specifically for a bout, Yokub feels that when you get a call to go to the UFC you jump on the opportunity no matter what.
“This is my dream, this is what I want to do, so when I get the call, I’m like it doesn’t matter (that it’s short notice), I’m prepared to die in there,” said Yokub.
“I wasn’t really training for this fight. But a fight is a fight. I thought about it like this was a street fight. I don’t want to lose in the streets.”
For Yokub there’s been so much pressure on his shoulders to just get to the UFC that by the time he arrived he didn’t feel any leading up to his bout versus Jones.
“My pressure was that I thought I was never going to make it,” Yokub said. “There’s so many guys at 135 pounds, and I’ll be 26 in November, time is ticking, so I didn’t want to wait too long. That’s what hurt me more.
“But during fight week I had no time to be nervous. I didn’t think about anything. It was like any other fight.”
Now that he’s in the UFC, Yokub knows it’s just a new beginning and he has to work even harder now as he moves forward with hopefully more bouts to come before year’s end.
“I’m just training, working hard and improving my game,” said Yokub. “I have to improve everything. I have to find a new gym where people really are training like pros. I just have to train hard and continue to improve.
“I would like to fight two more times this year. I would like to fight if possible in October and December. I don’t have any injuries. I’m fresh. I want to fight in October and December. If I can do that it will be amazing.”