Austin Hubbard (13-5) fights Vinc Pichel (13-2) in arguably the biggest fight of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career, but he didn’t necessarily have big mixed martial arts (MMA) aspirations early on.
Hubbard and Pichel are slated to clash at UFC Vegas 35, which will take place inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend (Sat., Aug. 21, 2021). “Thud” tells MMAMania.com how he sort of stumbled into MMA.
“Believe it or not, pretty much my whole entire amateur career, I was doing it just because I was bored. Everyone thinks I’m crazy when I tell this story,” he began. “What originally got me into MMA was being bored. I grew up doing a bunch of different sports my whole life. The college I went to didn’t have wrestling or football, which were the two major sports I competed in.
“My cousin talked me into going and helping the local MMA team in Sterling, Illinois,” Hubbard continued. “At first, I was strictly helping the fighters with wrestling. That only lasted two weeks before I said, ‘Man I want to do all of it.’ I haven’t looked back since. It wasn’t until I was 4-0 as a professional until I said, ‘Maybe I can do this as a career.’ At that point, I decided to move out to Denver, Colorado and I’ve been here for a little more than five years.”
Hubbard is six fights deep into his UFC tenure, alternating between losses and wins against Davi Ramos, Kyle Prepolec, Mark Madsen, Max Rohskopf, Joe Solecki and Dakota Bush. The fighter agrees that Pichel may trump them all.
“Vinc is definitely up there. Probably number one or two,” Hubbard says of how Pichel stacks up against his past opponents. “He’s very well-rounded. He’s tough as hell. He gets better as the fight goes on it seems. He’s just a hard-nosed, gritty, well-rounded type of fighter. I believe I’m the same type of fighter. I think I’ll have youth as an advantage on my side. I think I’ll be a slight step ahead, but I do believe it’ll be a three-round war and I’m fully looking forward to the huge challenge ahead.”