When Myles "Fury" Jury steps into the Octagon against Diego Sanchez tonight at UFC 171 in Dallas, it will no doubt be the toughest test of his young career.
Sanchez will be a litmus test for the young fighter to see if he can, in fact, swim among the sharks in the 155-pound division. After winning his first four fights in the UFC, Jury feels he is more than ready for the challenge.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," the Team Alliance fighter said recently, as a guest on Darce Side Radio.
"I couldn't ask for a better camp. I feel great physically. I pushed myself as hard as I could and I'm in the best shape of my life. There's nothing left to do but go out there and have some fun."
Sanchez has a habit of turning any fight into a "Fight of the Night" slugfest. In his last fight, he was able to draw Gilbert Melendez into a back and forth affair and nearly finished "El Niño" in the final round. The TUF 13 alum says he is not too concerned with Sanchez's approach, as he is his own.
"I'll stay more focused on what I'm going to do," he said. "When I'm out there, just be focused on my skills and my fight, and not be too worried about getting caught up in what he's doing."
Easier said than done of course, as Sanchez has been a part of six "Fight of the Night" winning bouts, but Jury has gone through a lot in his career to get to this moment, so one can only assume he isn't going to get into a "rock ‘em, sock ‘em" robots contest with his opponent if he doesn't have to.
Jury was getting his first taste of the UFC, when he was a cast member of the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter, but that was cut short due to a torn ACL. Afterward, he lived with UFC featherweight Jeremy Stephens until he got back on his feet.
"I literally - I guess you could say - lived through him," Jury explained. "I'd go to the gym with him. I'd see what he was doing when he knocked out Marcus Davis and he beat a couple of other good guys. I was like ‘that's where I want to be.' I just wanted to stay around someone that was doing what I wanted to do, so it was a great thing for me to do."
He wasn't fighting at the time, so he helped Stephens with some of the camps he ran, taught a few classes when he could and had the support of his girlfriend as well. "We were just kind of getting through," he explained.
He would get healthy and the UFC would call again, this time for the TUF 15. There was no injury this time, but Jury was knocked off by finalist Al Iaquinta, in the opening round.
"It was a great lesson for me to learn in my career," he recalled. "Everybody wants to win and I look back and I'm like ‘damn I wish I won that show,' but I never got into this sport to win that show. It is what it is. You just learn from it and get better and that's what I did from that fight."
Since those fights don't count on a fighter's official record, Jury still has an "0" in the "L" column of his win-loss record. Don't get him wrong, the undefeated UFC lightweight likes that he is still undefeated, but he doesn't put too much stock into it.
"Honestly the whole zero thing is cool and all, but I don't focus on that," he explained. "I feel like that is just a combination of my work ethic and staying consistent you can always get better. That is just something that comes with when you work hard and stay determined and everything, you don't lose a lot. It's something that is cool for people to talk about, but at the end of the day it is what it is. I'm not afraid to lose. I fight to win. I don't really care too much about records."
Known mainly for his ground pedigree and recently receiving his jiu jitsu black belt from Carlos Ellias, Jury showed he can end a fight with his hands, when he starched Ramsey Nijem with a wicked right hand on the UFC on FOX 7 card.
Jury maintains his striking "has always been there" and he is a "complete well-rounded fighter." That being said, his ground game should continue to flourish under new Alliance grappling coach, Neil Melanson, whom Jury says is a great coach and fits his style.
UFC 171 maybe be the biggest fight of his young career, however, Jury feels as though all the pressure will fall on Sanchez.
"Honestly man, if anything, there is less pressure in this fight than there is in any other fight," Jury said. Diego is a fan favorite; everybody knows Diego, so all the pressure is on him. I feel like I'm more of the underdog in this fight and I love being the underdog. Pressure wise, I feel like I have nothing to do but just go out there and do my thing and have fun. However it turns out it, it turns out, but I don't feel like there is any more pressure in this fight."