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After standout UFC debut in London, don't expect Charles Byrd to start with the callouts


LONDON – It took Charles Byrd two submission wins in front of UFC President Dana White in order to earn a shot in the UFC, so what he did Saturday seemed tame by comparison.

Byrd (10-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) submitted John Phillips (21-7 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in the first round to close out the UFC Fight Night 127 prelims at The O2 in London. His promotional debut win streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Byrd got to his first UFC fight thanks to wins on Dana White’s Contender Series 1, and then edition No. 6 – after his technical submission win over Jamie Pickett wasn’t good enough to make the cut, he tapped Randall Wallace five weeks later. And he said the DWCS fights were tougher than his UFC debut in a packed London arena, by comparison.

“With the matchmakers and Dana White being right next to the cage, you have to perform,” Byrd said after his win over Phillips. “You can finish, but even a finish – you’ve seen guys who finish don’t get the contract. I felt it was a little more pressure. There’s not a big crowd to feed off of – just family and friends in (The Ultimate Fighter gym). I just feel like the anticipation and tension is a little higher in the room with all the other fighters.

“Honestly, I feel like this debut right now was a lot easier than doing that twice.”

It may have taken Byrd a second chance to make a good-enough first impression on White, but he didn’t waste his first official UFC opportunity. His stoppage was one of seven at UFC-London in 10 fights.

Byrd got the fight to the canvas early against Phillips, then softened him up with punches before taking his back with about 90 seconds left for a rear-naked choke that came with 1:02 left in the first round.

“I pride myself on being a complete fighter, and I’m going to take every advantage I can inside that octagon,” Byrd said. “I knew he was going to load that left hand, and with that he was going to be off-balance on that front foot. I just took that shot – it was there.

But despite the confidence that comes with three straight UFC-level submission wins, don’t expect the 34-year-old Texan to start trying to make up for potential lost time by becoming some new microphone master.

Byrd said he’s decidedly old school and not the callout type.

“I’m here to get better – I’m here to be a champion, like everyone else,” Byrd said. “I’m just trying to get better as a martial artist, myself. When I get back in the gym, whatever (the matchmakers) decide. I’m not in a position to call anybody out yet. I know that’s the trend, but I’d really like to get better at who I am and climb the ladder the right way. When the money’s there, then I can start making those big-money fights.

“I’m a lifelong martial artist. I started this when I was like 7 years old. I really try to embody the spirit of a martial artist and just try to be humble at all times. That’s the kind of person I want to be. All those other guys do well at the trash talk and all that. I’ll let them have that. I’m here to beat people inside the octagon.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 127, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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