While the novel coronavirus impacted MMA fighters in various ways, some were more directly affected by it than others. Case in point: lightweight Joe Solecki.
Originally slated to face Austin Hubbard at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov in June, Solecki was forced off the event after testing positive for Covid-19.
“The only reason I tested was that I knew we were going to be tested in Vegas and I didn’t want to bring that out there or I also didn’t want to go out there, test positive and come back home,” Solecki told MMAWeekly.com. “I took the test and never actually thought it would come back positive.
“I was feeling a little extra worn down, but other than that I felt fine. We didn’t have to quarantine that long. It was 10 days since we first tested. So it was a few days of training in the garage then right back at it.”
While understandably disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to fight in June, Solecki got through quarantine the best he could and stayed prepared for when his bout would happen.
“This (upcoming fight) is supposed to be my second fight of the year instead of my first,” said Solecki. “Everything happened for a reason. I went back and trained in the garage, then once quarantine was up, got right back into camp.”
On Saturday in Las Vegas, Solecki (9-2) will finally have his delayed 2020 debut when he faces Austin Hubbard (12-4) in a preliminary 155-pound bout at UFC Fight Night: Munhoz vs. Edgar.
“I’ve got to dial in and clock in for 15 hard minutes,” Solecki said. “That’s really it. Being alert, being in the fight, fighting for every single exchange and position. If I pull ahead I can’t let him back into the fight, or if I fall behind I have to stay in the fight.
“The thing I think I can truly shine is inching him out in every department; using my fight IQ, mix things together well; I think if I do those things I will come out with my hand raised after three hard rounds.”
For Solecki what comes next after August 22 is for his team and the UFC to decide, as his focus is on the fights themselves and little outside of that.
“That’s the most important thing, after every fight coming back, getting with my coaches, getting with my management, seeing the results and seeing what the UFC wants for me,” said Solecki. “I’m a big believer in if I have coaches, if I have a manager, and I’m going to fight in the UFC I have to listen to all those people.
“They’re better at (the business side of MMA) than me. My job is to fight. I just say yes to whomever they want me to fight. That’s the easiest way for me. It lets me focus on the important thing which is preparation.”