darren-uyenoyama-1.jpgSAN JOSE, Calif. – Some fighters just want to compete, no matter the reward waiting at the end of the night. Darren Uyenoyama isn’t one of them.

Before he made it to the UFC, Uyenoyama rejected offers for $300 paydays and left the regional MMA circuit to focus on grappling and day jobs at a pair of MMA equipment companies.

“What can I buy with 300 bucks? That wouldn’t even pay my phone bill,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I wanted to do it, but I had to manage the risks.”

That’s why Uyenoyama, 33, didn’t fight for five years after his first pro bout, which took place in Japan in 2002. Instead, he helped other fighters get sponsorships with one of his employers, Fairtex, and competed on the grappling circuit, where he developed a reputation as a standout player.

“I was like that guy in the gym that once fought,” said Uyenoyama (8-3 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who meets Joseph Benavidez (17-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) on the FX-televised prelims of UFC on FOX 7, which takes place Saturday at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

He had aspirations to win the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championships and quit his job at Fairtex to train for the competition. Working at a kickboxing gym to make ends meet, his boss, fellow UFC fighter Chris Cariaso, announced he wanted to fight. So the two started training MMA.

Uyenoyama supported Cariaso’s burgeoning career while pursuing his dream of becoming a grappling champion. But when Cariaso turned down a short-notice fight, Uyenoyama felt confident enough in his MMA training to step up. After a long detour, he was back in MMA.

He soon put grappling on the back burner to focus full-time on the sport, which by then was exploding in popularity. The paydays were getting bigger, and the WEC, which had offered him $300, was building momentum under UFC parent company Zuffa.

Cariaso eventually found his way to Strikeforce, and later the WEC. Uyenoyama wanted to fight on a bigger stage, but initially, his layoff hurt him. He flew to New Jersey to try out for the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” but was told he didn’t have enough fights.

“I was like, ‘Man, you guys could have told me that by email,’” he said.

Eventually, Cariaso made it to the UFC, and Uyenoyama rubbed shoulders with Zuffa matchmaker Sean Shelby. He told Shelby he would never say no if called to fight. But he was also signed to Japanese promotion Shooto, which prevented him from jumping into the octagon when he got a call to fight Raphael Assuncao at a UFC event in Brazil.

After some contractual jiu-jitsu, Uyenoyama freed himself from his contract. Right around then, Shelby called with another fight: against Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.

Uyenoyama and Yamamoto faced off at UFC on FOX 1. In an upset, Uyenoyama outgrappled the Japanese star to earn a unanimous-decision win.

Uyenoyama no longer weighs the risks of a career in MMA. He’s an up-and-comer in the world’s biggest fight promotion.

Cariaso now fights by his side. The pair recently moved from the bantamweight division to the burgeoning flyweight class.

But despite his status as a bonafide threat in the 125-pound division, Uyenoyama isn’t racing toward the title, whose current owner, Demetrious Johnson, bested Benavidez by split decision this past year.

“I’m not looking for an easy-paved road to the title,” Uyenoyama said. “Titles are secondary. I think if I win all my fights, that just happens on its own. But I think if Joseph and the champ were to fight 10 times, I think he’d win half of them. He’s a great person. He was the first person to congratulate me after the ‘Kid’ Yamamoto fight. It’s going to be a fight.”

For now, that’s enough for Uyenoyama. More than becoming a big star or a champion, he’s looking to put those lean years behind him.

“It’s tough for me to come up with bills fighting once a year, twice a year,” he said. “I’d really like them to fight me more. I only have one teammate in the division, and everybody else is a potential opponent.”

For more on UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Islam Makhachev Cleared in Testing Positive for Meldonium Prior to UFC on FOX 19

  • 28 days ago
  • 20 views

After having his UFC on FOX 19 bout cancelled in April, Islam Makhachev on Wednesday was found "not at fault" for ingesting a prohibited substance. read news >>

UFC on FOX 20 TV Ratings Peak with 4.687 Million Viewers for Main Event

  • 28 days ago
  • 11 views

UFC on FOX 20 sent FOX's tv ratings for UFC events through the roof, peaking with 4.687 million viewers for Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko. read news >>

Gerald Meerschaert Replaces Joe Riggs in Valor Fights 36 Main Event

  • 21 days ago
  • 13 views

With Joe Riggs forced out of his main event bout against Sidney Wheeler at Valor Fights 36 due to injury, Valor Fights has found a replacement. read news >>

UFC Fight Night 96 Roster Loading Up Quickly for Portland

  • 21 days ago
  • 16 views

The Octagon returns to Portland, Ore., with UFC Fight Night 96 on Oct. 1, and the fight card is filling up fast. read news >>

Ben Rothwell Injured, Out of UFC 203 Co-Main Event

  • 13 days ago
  • 32 views

Ben Rothwell has been forced out of his UFC 203 co-main event bout with former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum due to injury. read news >>

Gonzalez Replaces Koch in UFC 203 Bout against Dober

  • 14 days ago
  • 0 views

A training injury has forced lightweight prospect Erik Koch from his UFC 203 bout against Drew Dober. Stepping in for "New Breed" on September 10 in Cleveland will be Octagon newcomer Jason Gonzalez. read news >>

UFC 202 Free Fight: Nate Diaz Defeats Michael Johnson

  • 12 days ago
  • 19 views

Watch as Nate Diaz earned a decision victory against Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015. read news >>

Injuries Force Changes to Brasilia Card

  • 12 days ago
  • 2 views

Injuries have forced some changes to the UFC Fight Night card in Brasilia, Brazil on September 24. read news >>

Several Injuries Force Changes to UFC Fight Night 95: Cyborg vs. Lansberg Card

  • 9 days ago
  • 20 views

Several injuries have forced a shake up to the UFC Fight Night 95: Cyborg vs. Lansberg fight card in Brasilia, Brazil. read news >>

VIDEO: Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz Presser Erupts in Bottle Throwing Melee

  • 7 days ago
  • 98 views

The UFC 202 pre-fight press conference quickly devolved into a melee of bottles and cans flying everywhere. read news >>