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PLANTATION, Fla. – Thomas Gifford hasn’t had his first UFC fight yet, but he’s already feeling like he’s won.
After years fighting on shows throughout the Midwest regional scene, Gifford (17-7 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday opens the UFC on ESPN+ 8 main card against the unbeaten Roosevelt Roberts (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in a lightweight fight.
But when Gifford got to South Florida this week, he already knew he was at the next level.
“It’s felt amazing. I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s just cool and chill. It’s nothing like I’ve ever been through,” Gifford told MMA Junkie at a Thursday media day. “It’s probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in. I never got all this free stuff (before) from Reebok. It’s a dream come true, honestly.
“… I love the way everybody treats everybody. It’s crazy. It’s all the same, because you’re going to weight cut and fight. It’s more money. It’s mostly all the same except all the benefits are way better.”
UFC on ESPN+ 8 takes place at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. The main card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN2.
Gifford is one of the card’s biggest underdogs. Although Roberts has less than one-third the amount of total fights in his pro career as Gifford, he’s got a win already in the UFC, as well as a win on Dana White’s Contenders Series to punch his ticket to the big time.
But Gifford, who has won five straight, all by stoppage, said he’s not worried about anything Roberts will show him – because he’s seen it all and worked through a bit of everything.
“He doesn’t have the experience I have,” Gifford said. “He’s tall and lanky just like I am, and that creates problems for people. … I see he’s fast, he’s got good submissions, but he’s never been put in trouble like I have. I’ve been caught in submissions in the third round where I had to dig deep and turn over and do stuff just to get out of it.
“I’ve been punched, I’ve had my teeth knocked out, bloody nose and bloody eyes, couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and I’d go to my corner in the third round tired as crap and they’re like, ‘You’re losing this fight – you’ve got to come back and win it,’ and I’ve been able to dig deep and do that. In all his fights and all his opponents, I’ve never seen them do that to him, and I plan on doing it to him to make this a factor in the fight.”
To hear more from Gifford on his fight against Roberts, check out the video above.
News | MMA Junkie