While the UFC took over Toronto, Canada, for its sold-out super show at the Rogers Centre, former WEC lightweight Danny Downes is going through the final stages of his camp for a fight that just a few months ago would have been unthinkable.
Despite being contracted to Zuffa, Downes is preparing to fight for an outside promotion, a consequence of the UFC having more lightweights than it has spots to fill following its merger with the WEC.
“There’s some lightweights even I don’t know,” admits Downes as he considers the depth of talent in the UFC’s deepest division.
Downes will fight Tory Bogguess at Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee on Friday May 6th for his trainer Duke Roufous’ North American Fighting Championship.
Downes tells ProMMAnow.com that the deal for the fight came about quickly, with Roufous and his management handling everything after Downes had agreed to take an interim fight in a venue other than the Octagon.
“I’m always willing to fight anywhere and Duke with my management worked it out with the UFC.”
While the fight may not have been booked by Joe Silva, the result could still impact on the UFC lightweight division as Zuffa contracts allow the organization to cut fighters should they lose a fight.
While unsure about the contractual niceties, Downes admits if he was to lose to Bogguess he couldn’t blame the organization if they cut him.
“There’s a risk of this fight costing me my UFC chance.” However, he believes that fighters have to take risks to succeed. “This is a risky business by its nature and trying to avoid risk is not going to do you much good.”
Having last fought on the final WEC show in December it’s been over four months since Downes stepped into the cage, but he’s not been idle.
“I’ve been in the gym staying in shape in case something on short notice came up,” Downes said. “You never know when they’re going to call.”
Downes understands this better than most, having first fought for Zuffa when the WEC needed an opponent for Chris Horodecki on short notice.
“Even the way I got in to the organization was on a whim at short notice. If I wanted security I’d have got a normal job but this is the path I chose and you’ve just got to take it.”
Many would have been frustrated by the wait but Downes takes it in stride. “It’s just the way the business is, everyone works on an irregular schedule.”
He points out that although now he is currently waiting for the world’s biggest MMA organization to find a spot for him, matchmaking was no easier when he was fighting on smaller shows.
“When I was trying to get fights on local shows I would go months without one because an opponent would drop out or a promoter would flake out.” To Downes it’s important to not “let that stuff bother you” and instead “just keep going and train to get better.”
Downes is confident this off-season dedication will pay dividends this coming Friday. “I haven’t had good luck with short notice fights in the past but this one feels different. It’s amazing the difference you can make by staying in shape between fights.”
Downes realizes the pressure will be on him come fight time, as he’s facing an opponent with nothing to lose. “Being the favorite just puts a bigger target on your back. Obviously he has a lot more to gain from this fight than I do.”
But Downes is confident he has the ability to secure the win and refocus on his future career in the UFC.
When asked who he’d like to fight in his UFC debut he makes clear that for his next fight he’s happy to leave it in the capable hands of Joe Silva et al. “The UFC always put on good fights and the matchmakers know what they’re doing so I’ll put my trust in them.”
Danny Downes headlines NAFC: Mayhem on Friday May 6th against Tory Bogguess at Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee. For more information about the event, including how to buy tickets, visit www.nafc.tv. To find out more about Danny Downes follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/dannyboydownes.