Teddy Ash knows he probably should have gotten a call from the UFC before now.
With a 14-4 record including wins over several Octagon veterans like Dominique Steele and Seth Baczynski, Ash felt like he would have earned his way to the UFC or at least gotten a shot at a short-notice fight before now.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen but the 29-year-old Canadian refused to get discouraged and he kept hammering away on the regional fight scene just hoping the UFC would finally recognize him.
On Tuesday, Ash gets his opportunity to prove that he belongs among the top fighters in the world when he competes on Dana White’s Contender Series and there is little doubt he’s gunning for that UFC contract.
“I knew it would happen eventually,” Ash said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I was just going to keep fighting the best guys I could get. It was bound to come. I’m super stoked to fight on the Contender Series right in front of Dana [White] and Mick [Maynard] and Sean Shelby. That’s f—king huge.
“There’s no doubt I’ve been on the radar and I should potentially already be in the UFC. I’ve got more fights than anyone on the Contender Series card.”
It might sound like Ash is bitter that he didn’t get a chance to fight in the UFC before now but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, he always tried to stay focused on the positive, which in his case meant taking on a string of fighters who had either fought in the UFC or other major promotions around the world so he could build his resume.
Now as he prepares for his shot at the Contender Series on Tuesday night, Ash not only feels like he’s ready for this fight but he’s champing at the bit to face the best of the best that the UFC can throw at him.
“I got lucky in that sense,” Ash said about the talent level of his opposition. “One guy [Cameron Olson] came off the Contender Series, he won his fight, and we were both 9-3 and we fought him at Fort McMurray. We were both looking for our shot and that was a big win. Then Kobe Ortiz, he fought in Bellator and M-1, a couple other Russian promotions and then Seth [Baczynski], the guy just fought for the Lethwei title. He’s just down to fight anybody and he’s a warrior.
“The way I went about it, I didn’t want to fight these regional guys who have experience fighting guys with little to no experience. I took a lot of that from my teammate Tanner Boser—just anyone, anywhere, any time. I had fights offered to me and I know I could win those fights but then I get a name like Seth Bascynski and I’m like ‘that’s a hard fight, let’s take that one’. I don’t want to get to the UFC and get my f—king ass whooped.”
The way Ash sees it, he’s been through some incredibly tough fights, which is why he’s got four losses on his record but he’s not ashamed of that fact.
He truly believes he learned something about himself in every setback that made him a better mixed martial artist who is truly ready for the level of talent he will face in the UFC.
“There’s a lot of guys that people seem to love who are undefeated fighters and marketing-wise it’s hype and all but it’s not very wise for the fighter to be 5-0 or 6-0 and get into the UFC,” Ash said.
“Not every case of course, there are special talents that can get there and deal with it but I’m battle ready. I’m ready to get in there and be part of the show.”
Obviously, Ash would have happily accepted an invitation to the Octagon before now but he also knows the Contender Series gives him a chance to fight in front of a captive audience filled with the UFC brass who will remember his performance on Tuesday night.
“The criteria of the show is f—king catered to my style. It’s perfect.” Ash said. “Sometimes you fight and you make your UFC debut on the prelims and Dana doesn’t even get a chance to see it. You’ve got to really build yourself a name. This is a great platform for me and I don’t really have to try to finish because I’m never in a dull fight. I like to fight and make it exciting. It could be a 14:55 war and then I get a knockout and I’m like f—k yeah.
“I’m going to have Dana right there watching and there’s no doubt he’s going to love my style.”