Kurt Holobaugh represents the pure definition of a fighter.
Not many other combatants would be willing to take a pro fight on their wedding day, but that's what he did, scoring an 81 second knockout just hours after tying the knot.
Holobaugh showed no fear, moving up in weight and accepting a fight against Strikeforce number one lightweight contender Pat Healy, who had previously been set to fight Gilbert Melendez, and he gave Healy all he could handle for three full rounds.
While he didn't win the decision, he impressed the Zuffa executives enough to give him another shot, this time under the bright lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He'll be making his debut this weekend (April 27, 2013) at featherweight in the opening bout of the UFC 159 preliminary card against Steven Siler.
The Louisiana native spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about his wild fight against Pat Healy in Strikeforce, fighting like he has nothing to lose and staying motivated against lower tier competition in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you actually had a professional fight on your wedding day. Can you fill me in some more details on that story? I love this.
Kurt Holobaugh: Oh yeah, man. My wife was into it. We'd been talking about getting married and I had a fight scheduled, and I was like, "Why not? Let's just go get a minister and get married the day of the fight." It was more exciting than anything. I try to blow off some steam whenever I fight, you want to stay as focused on your opponent as all times but it's good to take your mind off everything for a minute or two and just enjoy something else. In this case, it was my wedding. (laughs) I ended up knocking the guy out in 81 seconds so it was all good.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It ended up paying off. What was the situation like for you when you got the opportunity to fight Pat Healy on short notice in the final Strikeforce event? That was a guy who had been scheduled to fight for the title before the champion backed out with an injury.
Kurt Holobaugh: Well, I think my management team had some pretty good ties. Once Melendez fell out, Pat Healy still wanted to fight. He was trying to get to the UFC as well. They were looking for a replacement and I was lucky enough to step up and give Pat Healy a fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah and you gave him one hell of a fight. You had his back at one point, you were really taking it to him. Everyone was impressed at just how much of a fight you put up considering you were outside your weight class, competing on short notice against the number one contender. Did you just act like you had nothing to lose?
Kurt Holobaugh: Exactly. It was an opportunity that I never thought I could have had. I went in with that mindset and I really respected Pat a lot but in that fight, I tried to show him no respect. What lost me the fight was that I made a lot of mistakes. I don't think my skill level was what lost me that fight, it was just an experience factor. I wasn't ready for that high level of a fight and doing previous things that would have worked on lower level opponents didn't work on him. Just by that fight, I think I learned 10 ties as much as what I knew going into it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about some of the things you learned in particular? Fighting on that level is so much different than fighting on the local shows. You made a tremendous leap to get to that point and to where you are now.
Kurt Holobaugh: Right. It's different. I thought I was kinda out of my element a bit. Then again, it isn't that much different. I still felt like it was a normal fight setting, just a bit bigger and definitely a bigger opportunity.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that "nothing to lose" mindset and trying to act like you've got no respect for your opponent. You're making your UFC debut now against Steven Siler, a guy much further down the food chain than Pat Healy. Are you still keeping yourself in that same mindset or is it different now?
Kurt Holobaugh: No, I think I'm still in that same mindset because when I first started fighting, fighting period was only a dream. UFC was only a dream. When I first heard of cagefighting, I thought those guys were crazy and they were doing something I could only dream about doing. Then I started training and I got my chances to compete and I took it all one fight at a time. Next thing you know I'm breaking into the UFC. It's unreal.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you put that into words? I remember you saying in an old interview it was your dream to fight in the UFC before you ever even started training. Now you're here, just a few days out from making your debut. How are you handling all that?
Kurt Holobaugh: I took the last month off work and tried to focus on being a full-time fighter for a month. I've been training, doing whatever I've got to do to know I'll be ready for that level of competition. I believe all that and every day I feel a little bit more like a real fighter. I'm starting to feel like I can do this and I belong here.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned taking the month off of work. A lot of fighters just getting their start in the UFC still work jobs on the side. What do you do?
Kurt Holobaugh: I'm an alarm technician. I install fire alarms, burglar alarms and cameras.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I think I'd feel pretty safe knowing a professional cage fighter is taking care of my security. Now, did you know going into that Strikeforce fight that if you did well, you'd be invited to the UFC, win or lose?
Kurt Holobaugh: Definitely. I knew that, for one, fighting Pat Healy wasn't just like fighting a random local guy thrown in like you see with other promotions. I knew it was an opportunity to take a step up. No one expected me to beat Pat Healy. I don't know if anyone expected me to go three rounds with him. But I went all three rounds and I made him fight. I proved to myself that I just hung with a true veteran and did well and had chances to win the fight.