Popular UFC featherweight Billy Quarantillo was riding the crest of a wave, but a tough defeat to Edson Barboza derailed his momentum. Now “Billy Q” is back, and ready to get back to winning ways at UFC Nashville.
Quarantillo will take on Damon Jackson on August 5 in an important matchup for both men as they look to rebound from recent defeats. And, during a visit to the live stream of the Anik & Florian Podcast at UFC X, he laid out the situation he currently finds himself in, and how he plans to approach his upcoming bout with Jackson.
Calling the bout a “huge matchup,” Quarantillo explained, “We’re two guys coming off big losses to top 15 guys. So I think … either one of us can win this fight and get another chance at the top 15.
“We’ve both lost in a co-main event, so we got to fight to get our spots back.”
The fight offers a very different proposition to his last matchup, where he faced elite striker Barboza in Kansas City. Now Quarantillo will need to be on point with his grappling game as he prepares to face Jackson, who does much of his best work on the mat.
“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a great matchup for me,” Quarantillo explained.
“It’s an exciting fight. I’m going from fighting Edson Barboza, who was a really good striker, to fighting Damon Jackson, who just really wants to grapple, wants to submit – I think he’s got 15 submissions.
“I’ve never been submitted. I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I pride myself on doing really well on the ground, so it’s just been a really good training camp so far, a lot of grappling. (I’ve) got a lot of high-level wrestling, and I’m just super excited to get back in there and kind of redeem myself a little bit.”
The bout offers a chance for Quarantillo to bounce back after a tough loss to Barboza in Kansas City. Despite heading into the bout as the favorite with the oddsmakers, Quarantillo ended up becoming the latest addition to Barboza’s spectacular highlight reel, with the Brazilian handing him his first career knockout with a huge knee in the first round.
“The most frustrating thing about that fight was it was going exactly how I wanted to,” Quarantillo admitted.
“We wanted to push him up against the cage, make him grapple a little bit, wear him out, make him tired. If we didn’t get the takedown right away, that’s alright, make him work, make him work, make him work. Then eventually we’re gonna get the takedown, or piece him up on the feet.
“I shot in and got some really good looks. But next thing you know, one of my shots, he ended up catching me. He’s caught a lot of people with those knees and those kicks and that kind of stuff. And, like we all know in MMA, you only get one chance. You get caught, the fight’s over. You’re not gonna fight again for a few months.
“I’ve had a long time to think about that sequence where I got caught. So, as frustrating as it is, I’m kind of looking past it and I’m ready to move on to the next thing.”
That defeat continued a frustrating run for Quarantillo, where he’d see impressive victories followed by defeats in bouts where he was very competitive.
A third-round knockout of Kyle Nelson in September 2020 was followed by a decision loss to Gavin Tucker at UFC 256 three months later. Quarantillo then bounced back with a third-round TKO finish of Gabriel Benitez, but a decision defeat to Shane Burgos put him on the back foot once again.
A scrapped bout with Bill Algeo meant that Quarantillo had to sit on that loss for a full year. But he rebounded in style with a superb standing-TKO finish of Alexander Hernandez at UFC 282 to set up his clash with Barboza.
The resulting knockout loss to the Brazilian means that Quarantillo has alternated wins and losses through his last six bouts. It’s a pattern he wants to break, and hopes that victory over Jackson in Nashville can spark a run of form that will push him up the featherweight ranks.
“I feel like it’s kind of been my career, you know?” he said.
“I’ll get a few big wins – and back before the UFC, it was like, I would get some big wins, and then I have a big injury. And then I was on the Ultimate Fighter (and) they told me ’You’re not ready yet.’ I had to fight a lot more to get there.
“So I keep getting to a new level. But I’ve had the setbacks and I’ve had the adversity to come back from that. So I think I do thrive after the adversity.
“I’m never going to quit. I’m never gonna give up or just fight to get a paycheck. I’m there to try to kill this guy. I’m there to try to take them out. And I’ve been here before where I’ve had the setbacks before, and it’s always pushed me to a new height, and I’m looking forward to getting to a new height after this fight.”