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Austin Hubbard prepares to face Kurt Holobaugh in a lightweight fight during the UFC 292 event at TD Garden on August 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Austin Hubbard Welcomes What Is Unpredictable

UFC Lightweight Austin Hubbard Loves His MMA Journey And Believes He'll Get Back In The Win Column Versus Michal Figlak

Austin Hubbard was home. It wasn’t a long absence in the great scheme of things, but it probably felt like forever to the Illinois native, who hadn’t fought in the UFC since the summer of 2021.

Those days in the wilderness of the regional MMA circuit were over, though, and after two wins there and two more on season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter, he was in the Octagon and facing Kurt Holobaugh in the TUF finals.

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“It felt great, man,” Hubbard said. “I was very excited to make that walk. Obviously, I really wanted to win that fight and bring home that trophy; I thought that would've been really cool. But, at the end of the day, I feel like I did have a pretty good performance. Kurt just did a beautiful job in his transition and got me in that choke, and the second I rolled out of that armbar, he had that triangle locked up and I couldn't even posture up. I was like, ‘Damn it, this isn't good.’ That's just how fighting goes sometimes. That's why we all love fighting so much. It's so unpredictable.”

Truer words have never been spoken. It’s that unpredictability that makes every fight unique and a must see for those who enjoy the sport. As for those who fight, that unpredictability can be a blessing or a curse, because even after a perfect training camp and weight cut, one wrong move on the mat, or one shot with four-ounce gloves, and it could be the end of the night. To some, that’s the appeal of MMA. Don’t count Hubbard in that group.

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“Yeah. I don't know if I would call it an appeal,” he laughs. “It sucks. You could be on point all training camp long, have all the best sparring sessions and then fight night comes and sometimes you just can't put it together like you should. And that's just the name of the game, really. Sometimes, I'm sure we all, as fighters, experience that to some degree or another. I know I've experienced it a handful of times and, in some cases, I'm fortunate enough to still pull through and get the win, and others I've lost.”

Over the course of a career in which he’s compiled a 16-7 pro record, there have been those ups and downs, but he’s never let the downs take him too low. And he’s never lost two in a row, which – if you subscribe to MMA math - bodes well for his Saturday return against Michal Figlak.

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And though returning to the UFC win column for the first time since he decisioned Dakota Bush in April of 2021 is a pretty solid motivation, he’s got more than that, as he and his wife Chelsea are expecting the arrival of their daughter in June. That’s made camp in Colorado tougher as the family is back in Illinois, but Hubbard is willing to make that sacrifice.

“I'm not going to lie, it has definitely added a lot more spark to my focus and motivation and all those sorts of things,” he said, “I’m taking the time away from my family and my pregnant wife, so I want to make sure it's worth it. Honestly, in those moments when you're training hard and things get hard and you want to take a little break, I just say to myself, my daughter needs you to be strong, and it does give me that little push I need to get me through to a strong finish.”

That’s in a fighting sense. In life, Hubbard has already made his mark, not just to his family, but to those around him, and some who don’t even know him personally but are inspired by his story.

Austin Hubbard stands in his corner prior to his lightweight fight against Roosevelt Roberts during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter at UFC APEX on March 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Austin Hubbard stands in his corner prior to his lightweight fight against Roosevelt Roberts during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter at UFC APEX on March 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“It's been awesome,” said Hubbard of life after TUF. “I come from a pretty small town, only like 10-15,000 people, and when we moved back home, I did not realize the amount of people in my hometown who knew who I was. I'd be walking around everywhere and grocery shopping, and people always come talk to me and give me encouragement and are rooting for me. And not only in my hometown, but the fans all around in the UFC that message me with kind words and things like that. That is really cool. I didn't necessarily get into this for that. I just always enjoyed training and fighting and those sorts of things. But it's cool to see you be the one to provide others with motivation. We all find motivation in whatever form we find it, and it's different for everyone. And I think it's a cool thing that we can motivate other people to be the best versions of themselves and strive for something. So yeah, it's been really cool.”

But Hubbard isn’t done yet. There’s a fight to win this weekend, and “Thud” is all-in. Like he always is.

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