brandon-thatch.jpgBrandon Thatch is close, and he knows it.

The challenge at this point might be as much about keeping calm about what lies ahead of him so he can keep doing what he needs to do get there.

For Thatch (9-1), that’s just keep on winning. The welterweight has won eight straight fights, and in his nine wins, he’s never had to go out of the first round. This past month at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 7 at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo., near his home base at Grudge Training Center, Thatch submitted Mike Rhodes around the midway point of the first round.

Thatch and the team around him believe he could soon be getting a call from the UFC.

“I’ve just been taking care of one fight at a time and training as hard as I can,” Thatch recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I put in the work at the gym and the outcome handles itself. It’s ideal for where I’m trying to head, but I continue to strive to get to the UFC and I just keep doing what I’m doing – and I’ll be there shortly.”

Thatch hasn’t lost since his lone Strikeforce appearance, which came in 2008 when Brandon Magana took him the distance and walked away with a split nod.

That fight happened to take place at the famed Playboy Mansion in California. Thatch said the environs weren’t a distraction, but as far as losses go, it could be worse than your second pro fight being at Hugh Hefner’s house with bunnies all around.

“I guess if you’re going to lose, that’s the place to do it,” he said. “Before the fights and before it was time to warm up, you soak it in and look around. It’s the Playboy Mansion, and it’s definitely pretty cool. There’s the grotto and the hot tub, and the whole place is cool. You’re in the back warming up and there are peacocks walking around and monkeys in cages.

“But when it came time to walk to the cage, it was just like any other fight.”

Lately, “just like any other fight” for Thatch, of course, is a first-round victory. But the difference between wins at the Ring of Fire, Instinct MMA and RFA level, and wins at the UFC level, can be fairly drastic.

But Thatch believes the work he’s done at Tristar Gym in Montreal with UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and the work he does at Grudge alongside several current UFC standouts could make the difference for him when he’s ready to get to the next level – which he believes could be soon. If nothing else, he believes he’s ready for it.

“I’ve been training with Georges at Tristar and I train at Grudge in Colorado,” he said. “I train with UFC athletes all the time and I feel like I’m at the same level – or if not, just a little under. I feel like I’m ready for the big leagues, and there’s no reason I couldn’t compete (in the UFC).”

Thatch points to a life being surrounded by martial arts for helping keep things in perspective. His father was involved in the sport, and that kept him near it from an early age.

Now that may be paying dividends – and may pay off even more if he gets the UFC call he’s been hoping for and believes is just around the bend.

“My father was my coach, so I’ve been around the sport, doing martial arts, since I was 3 or 4,” Thatch said. “I’ve been in the back while his fighters were in the back. So I know how to keep my mental fight in check as much as the physical fight. I’ve been around the game as long as I can remember. I’m a physically strong fighter and a mentally strong fighter, as well. I keep my butterflies flying in formation.”

If he continues that – and keeps the first-round stoppage wins coming – that UFC call might be sooner than he thinks.

For more on RFA 7, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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