It has been 15 months since Brandon Thatch last stepped into the Octagon. The rising welterweight didn't want to wait even a second longer.
When Stephen Thompson went down with an injury two weeks ago, Thatch feared that his return would be upended for a second time.
"I would have fought my mother at that point," Thatch told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It didn't matter who. I just needed a fight."
He got his wish. Thatch will meet former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 60 on Saturday night in Broomfield, Colo. Henderson will be a difficult matchup; Thatch didn't mind at all. He lives about a half hour from Broomfield and injuries derailed his entire 2014. He wanted back in that cage no matter what.
"I was just very grateful that I had such a veteran opponent that stepped up," Thatch said. "I'm excited to fight at home and to be a main event is just an added bonus. I'm just very grateful and excited."
Thatch (11-1) has not fought since November 2013, a first-round TKO of Paulo Thiago. After that, the Denver native needed surgery to on his shoulder and ankle. He was all set to return to the UFC last August against Jordan Mein when he suffered a compound fracture of his toe. That injury set Thatch back another 10 weeks without training.
In 2013, Thatch burst onto the UFC scene with a quick finish of Justin Edwards and that demolition of Thiago. In all, he has finished his last 10 opponents in the first round. Every single one of his victories has come in the first five minutes as well.
Thatch, 29, is not worried that the injuries have quelled his momentum.
"Apparently this is a contact sport -- who knew?" Thatch said. "I'm not too concerned over the hype. Usually my actions will carry a lot longer than the words. I'm gonna continue to fight and impress. Whether I win or lose, you're gonna love to watch me fight."
While Thatch is completely healthy physically, he did have to repair some mental and emotional anguish. All "Rukus" has wanted to do was fight and the toe fracture especially brought him down.
"Any time you have a long layover, it's rough on the mind and it's something you try to keep the wheels turning as much as possible," Thatch said. "I tried to make the best of my time, but it was depressing. It was rough."
That's why he wants to get back in there so badly and he isn't necessarily worried about continuing that first-round streak. Henderson isn't a guy who is easily finished -- it has only happened three times in his nine-year career.
"It's not something I look for and it's not something I try to force," Thatch said. "If it comes, it comes. If it goes five rounds, it'll go five rounds."
Thompson would have been a tough fight. Henderson is a different animal. He was once regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Though he's moving up to welterweight, Henderson has a well-rounded game. He'll be by far the toughest opponent of Thatch's career. And that's the exact kind of challenge Thatch was hoping for all along.
"You don't get in this sport to coast and fight at mediocre levels," Thatch said. "Benson is a champion and I want to see where I can compete in the sport."