No longer just 'a jiu-jitsu guy,' DWCS winner Joe Solecki targets UFC 244 and Madison Square Garden

LAS VEGAS – Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Joe Solecki (8-2) was one of five fighters that earned a UFC contract Tuesday night at Dana White’s Contender Series 19, where he submitted James Wallace (9-3) via first-round guillotine.

Despite all his professional wins coming by the way of submission, Solecki wants to be known as a complete fighter, and he feels like he’s proven that in his last couple of outings.

“I’m so tired of being a jiu-jitsu guy,” Solecki told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight. “Even though I love jiu-jitsu – it’s changed my life – I just want to be a fighter, so I think my last two fights have really shown that.”

Having started jiu-jitsu at the young age of 6, Solecki knew he wanted a career in martial arts. He set out a goal to be in the big leagues by the age of 25, and last night, he realized his dream.

“I started training when I was 6 and I started watching the UFC when I was around 10,” Solecki said. “Back in those days, the Tito (Ortiz), Randy (Couture), Chuck (Liddell) days, it was a little more ruthless. It wasn’t as professional, and that’s what I wanted to do, so to be up here as a real professional athlete now, contracted UFC fighter, this is unbelievable.”

“I know I’m young, I’m 25, but I had a goal for myself to be in a big promotion by 25; I’ll be 26 next month,” Solecki added. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I think this camp was a lot of that. I traveled five out of seven weeks. I was away from my wife and a lot of my team. It was a lot of sacrifice, and it’s been a lot of sacrifice since I started fighting, so it’s just a really good feeling to know that it pays off sometimes.”

Coming into the fight with a gameplan to grapple, Solecki knew that’s what his opponent Wallace would be expecting, which is what allowed him to open up his striking early, close the distance, and land the takedown. It was the beginning of the end for Wallace from that point.

“I think tonight, I heard his corner say, ‘Get on the bike,’ as soon as we’re about to touch gloves,” Solecki said. “I was a little worried – he’s an American Top Team guy, he’s going to do the copycat flying knee (that Jorge Masvidal used to knock out Ben Askren). When I heard that, I was like, ‘OK, they’re worried about the takedown,’ so that’s a perfect time to let my hands go.”

Solecki’s plan was to go out there and perform to the best of his ability. He admits that he didn’t expect the fight to go as well as it did, and with all the previous fighters on the night putting on fantastic performances, as well, he just wasn’t sure what would end up happening.

“Something we were stressing all camp was, you don’t know what Dana’s looking for and we’re just going to come out and try to get that win,” Solecki said. “Fight as hard as we can and give the best effort. Either way, I knew a win here would be great, so if it was a boring decision, it wouldn’t be the best, but I’m still going to take the winner’s share and get exposure, but we were trying to be exciting, trying to have a good fight, and it worked out amazing. I don’t even think I saw it going as good as it did.”

And what’s next for the Jersey kid, Solecki? Well UFC Newark is right around the corner but unfortunately a little too soon for him. An avid boxing fan, he’d love the opportunity to compete in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“There is November, Madison Square Garden,” Solecki said. “I’m a huge boxing fan, like old-school boxing, and I’m a Jersey kid, so Madison Square Garden in November would be amazing, but I don’t call the shots.”

For more on Dana White’s Contender Series 19, check out the MMA Events.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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