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Self-described ‘idiot’ Billy Quarantillo was fighting ‘basically blind’ before UFC Vegas 31

UFC Vegas 31 marked the first time Billy Quarantillo fought without fears of going half-blind mid-fight.

UFC Fight Night: Billy Quarantillo Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Billy Quarantillo owes the assist to Gavin Tucker for finally pushing him to get corrective eye surgery.

Quarantillo (16-3) put Gabriel Benitez through the wringer over the course of three rounds during their fight at UFC Vegas 31 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this month. Billy Q told just how bad his eyesight was in a new interview off the heels of his third round technical knockout finish (watch highlights).

“It was something I should have done years ago. So every single fight up until this last one, I would fight either with contacts and or like basically blind,” he revealed. “I didn’t have great eyesight. So most of the fights, one of the contacts would get knocked out and everything would be blurry. And for this last fight [against Benitez], it was the first time ever that I had 20/15 vision. I have better than 20/20 vision.

“I was just so comfortable because I had all these things that got fixed and I was in great shape,” he continued. “So I went in there with so much confidence I could see everything perfectly. There was nothing in the back of my head like, ‘You could lose your eyesight any second now because if a contact comes out. My future seems to be really bright now going into the next fight with a lot more confidence.”

It took Quarantillo 18 professional fights — and his first UFC loss to Gavin Tucker — to convince him to correct his vision.

“We’re not supposed that we’re not supposed to wear contacts because of a certain athletic commission,” he said. “The Gavin Tucker fight I wore my contacts, even though you’re not supposed to, which is silly because I think it’s safer to fight with contacts than fight blind. In the first round, my eye contact gets knocked out. So the second and third rounds, my one eye is super blurry and it affects your whole vision. And then, sure enough, we like collided heads in the third round and it busted my eye open even more. So if you watch that fight like the end of the fight, the last like three minutes of the fight, I can barely see anything. Everything was super blurry. There’s blood in my eye. I’m losing the fight.

“After the fight, I stayed up all night,” he continued. “I’m like, ‘What are you thinking? Going into a high-caliber fight like this? There’s so much money on the line. Your reputation is on the line, your record is on the right, your career is on the line.’ And it comes down to a little tiny contact lens that can mess up your entire vision. I was just being an idiot for not getting this done sooner. But that was definitely the worst. It was just like the last straw for me. I’m like, ‘I’m never gonna let this happen again and I’m going to pay.’ I would have paid whatever money it took to get my eyes fixed. Luckily, it was only like four grand. So it wasn’t too bad, but it was something that I needed done. And I made all those adjustments. And that’s why these last seven months, I basically corrected everything I needed to correct from that last fight and, you know, made it work for my advantage.”

Quarantillo dominated as an underdog going into UFC Vegas 31, but he almost didn’t make it to showtime. The Featherweight fighter suffered a cut over his eye about two weeks out from the fight and was “pretty close” to pulling out.

“If I would have gone out there and got punched in the first 10 seconds, it busted open and blood everywhere, they could have stopped the fight,” he said. “So that was something that we were obviously considering. And I talked to my coach, my manager, and I talked to some other guys, like big names in the UFC that have been there, done that. And about half of them were like, ‘Dude, you need to pull out of this fight and reschedule it and put it back for a few weeks.’ So I got super, super nervous. And one guy that talked me into it [fighting], gave me that peace of mind was James Krause. I’m a huge fan. I talk to him all the time. He was actually on the other end.

“He’s like, ‘Listen, dude, just don’t do any contact for the next week and you should be fine. Hopefully, it doesn’t even get cut open.’ And his sense of ‘I think you’ll be okay’ type of situation outweighed the other people that told me to pull out because I still wanted to fight. Hearing from a veteran like that who I have a lot of respect for, that made my decision a little bit easier,” Quarantillo explained. “I couldn’t roll, I couldn’t spar. All I can really do is do strength and conditioning work. And we just made the most out of it and it worked out.”

The worst injury Quarantillo suffered in the fight is one you probably wouldn’t spot.

“I bit through the side of my tongue. So there’s like a huge gash in the side of it. It looks like a shark fin,” he shared. “And we went to like this five-star steakhouse after the fight. We were some ballers. I knew that they were going to pay for the meal. And they’re talking about all of these specials and everything. And I’m like, ‘Dude, honestly, like, every bite I take of food is painful.’ So I just order a pretty basic filet, nothing crazy. And every bite, it was so salty it would burn my mouth. So as good as the food tasted and as excited as I was for that food, it still right now really hurts. Maybe in a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to enjoy things again. But right now I’m just pitying myself a little bit.”

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