MEXICO CITY -- It's taken three stints on the UFC roster and multiple appearances on The Ultimate Figheter to get here, but Efrain Escudero is finally coming home to Mexico.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner, who was born in the Mexican state of Sonora and now trains at the MMA Lab in Phoenix, meets Drew Dober in a lightweight bout at UFC 188 in Mexico City on Saturday night.
But Escudero, fired up after an enthusiastic reception from a raucous crowd at Wednesday's UFC 188 open workouts, says that his first fight in Mexico's capitol city will go down as a highlight in his 32-fight career.
"Being on The Ultimate Fighter, and being the first Mexican guy to be on there, being back in Mexico City, it's a dream come true," Escudero said.
Originally, Escudero, who served as a coach on a recent season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, hoped to compete at the UFC's debut in the city last November. But injury kept him for competing at UFC 180.
"It's a dream come true," Escudero said. "Man, I was here for UFC 180. It was crazy. Now I'm on the other side of where I'm actually fighting on the card. It's even crazier."
Of course, it's not all fun and games for Escudero. He's been cut twice by the UFC and understands that the fight game is not the longest of careers, so his third chance might very well be his last. Escudero is 1-1 in his current stint and has vowed to either build on the momentum from his Feb. 14 win over Rodrigo de Lima or go out on his shield trying.
"I'm going back to my old self," Escudero said. "I did a lot of interviews before with the ‘new and improved Efrain.' Now the old one is back, the guy whose arm was broken before he lost, that's who's back now. If you're going to beat me, you're going to have to knock me out."