LAS VEGAS – When Gilbert Urbina got knocked out by Tresean Gore, he almost certainly thought his “Ultimate Fighter” dream was over.
Gore stopped Urbina in the “TUF 29” semifinals on the last episode of the season, which aired earlier this month. But soon after that episode was broadcast, UFC president Dana White announced Gore had an injury that was going to keep him out for a while.
So who did the UFC call to fight Bryan Battle (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the “TUF 29” middleweight final? Urbina (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who said he got the call just before White broke the news.
“It’s a blessing,” Urbina told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day for UFC on ESPN 30 in Las Vegas. “It’s honestly a blessing to get that call once again and prove who I am and make a statement here with the UFC.
“I literally found out right before that interview (White did with TMZ). So it was 10 days’ notice.”
Urbina said thanks to his father, he never fully gave up hope that the UFC would give him a call, even if it wasn’t under the circumstances he finds himself in this week – fighting for an “Ultimate Fighter” trophy despite losing in the semifinals.
“I wasn’t on the card at all, but I was just staying patient,” he said. “My (dad) is my manager, and he basically told me, ‘Hey, Gil, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Stay busy, stay working, because the UFC is going to give you a call – whether it’s 10 days’ notice, like it is, or a week’s notice, or a couple days’ notice. I’m ready. At 185 pounds, I’ll be ready for anyone. And hopefully in the future, I’ll get the call at 170 pounds, as well and I’ll run both the tables.”
Urbina appears to know his “TUF” history, too. He said his matchup with Battle, who submitted Andre Petroski to reach the final, reminds him of arguably the most important fight in UFC history.
“I think we match up good,” Urbina said. “… I’ve been watching on the reel on the UFC where they show Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin (at the TUF 1 Finale). I see me and Bryan as two big bodies. They were calling us the ‘Twin Towers’ on the season, and we’re just two big bodies willing to put it all on the line.”
UFC on ESPN 30 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN+.
Check out the full interview with Urbina in the video above.
UFC on ESPN 30: Make your predictions for Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze
UFC on ESPN 30 commentary team, broadcast plans set: Michael Bisping returns to booth
UFC on ESPN 30 pre-event facts: Giga Chikadze looks for rare 7-0 octagon start