Lightweight prospect Pat Audinwood (9-2-1) didn’t taste defeat in his first ten professional mixed martial arts fights, beating the likes of Bellator veteran Lester Caslow and former M-1 participant Robert Conner along the way.
The next thing he knew, Audinwood had the opportunity many fighters can only dream about, as he made his UFC debut on Sept. 25 against Thiago Tavares at UFC 119.
“He came out and was a lot more explosive than I anticipated,” Audinwood said of Tavares. “I thought I was going to be able to sprawl on his and keep him standing, but he got me with a blast double.”
Audinwood managed to work back up to his feet and then went for a single-leg takedown of his own. But Tavares latched onto a guillotine choke and Audinwood’s first loss came at the 3:45 mark of round one.
“That choke was tight; I was almost out on my feet,” he said.
With one more chance to extend his UFC stay, Audinwood went up against talented Canadian striker John Makdessi at UFC 124 on Dec. 11. This time Audinwood went the distance, but the end result was the same, with Makdessi out-landing Audinwood on the feet to pick up a decision victory.
“It was an awkward style,” Audinwood said of Makdessi’s stand-up game, which included several spinning back kicks. “I never got to spar with anyone like that.”
The fight stayed on the feet for the full duration. When asked whether he hoped to get the fight to the ground more or employ a different strategy, he replied, “I didn’t really get to work my game plan at all; he kind of rattled my brains a bit early in the fight.”
Not long after seeing his record in the Octagon fall to 0-2, Audinwood received word from his manager that he had been released by the promotion. Although he was hoping for another shot, Audinwood wasn’t surprised by the move, particularly with the UFC’s recent merger with the WEC.
“No, I kind of knew,” he said of hearing about his release. “I read up on the forums and stuff, what they’re saying about everybody. Basically you’re fighting for your job.”
Despite the setback, Audinwood isn’t making excuses and said he didn’t feel overwhelmed or nervous on the big stage.
“To tell you the truth, I felt fine both times,” Audinwood said. “I didn’t feel like I had the jitters or anything. The way the lights are set up, you can’t even see the crowd when you’re in the cage.”
Audinwood also had the opportunity to spend time backstage at the WEC with his cousin and Team Bombsquad training partner John Franchi.
He said that he and Franchi both plan to keep training, improving, and getting back into the cage. Audinwood said that he is currently eyeing a return around some time this April.
As for his goals as a fighter, those haven’t changed. Audinwood still wants to work his way back up to a major promotion and show what he’s capable of.
“I’m just going to keep fighting and work my way back up,” he said. “If it’s with another promotion, that’s cool; if I get back in the UFC, that’s great.”