On a packed fight card filled with major names, one man is looking to make a big impression after receiving a huge last-minute opportunity.
When Bo Nickal’s scheduled opponent Tresean Gore was forced off the card due to injury, undefeated 29-year-old Val Woodburn was given the opportunity of a lifetime. Now the 7-0 prospect has the chance to face the hottest prospect in the UFC on the main card of a huge pay-per-view during UFC International Fight Week.
“Man, this is crazy. I think I’m in a dream right now!” Woodburn told reporters during media day in Las Vegas.
“But, at the same time, this is what I work for. And this is why I put in all the hard work. So, at the same time, I’m excited, too. So it’s like, ‘Oh man! This is like a dream!'”
Woodburn’s form on the regional scene had already attracted the UFC matchmakers, who had earmarked him for a chance to earn a place on the UFC roster, but those plans were escalated to an instant spot on on the roster, and a bout with collegiate wrestling phenom and fellow undefeated MMA prospect Nickal.
“Honestly, I was supposed to originally be on the Contender Series in August, and then a couple of hours ago I got a call saying I’ve got an opportunity to be on a main card fighting Bo Nickal. I’m like, ‘All right, let’s go!'” he explained.
“It couldn’t get no better than that. I don’t have to wait. Straight in, into a debut fight versus one of the better guys, I guess, on the roster. It’s exciting.”
The chance to jump straight in at the deep end was too big to resist for Woodburn, who also said he didn’t have a moment’s pause to consider that his debut was against one of the most-hyped prospects in the sport.
“Oh, I didn’t think twice about it!” he grinned.
“I was like, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ Either way, I’m gonna I’m gonna have to get in and fight somebody tough anyway, so why not do it now?”
And, despite the seemingly uphill task ahead of him – Woodburn is a colossal underdog with the Vegas oddsmakers – the fighter nicknamed “The Animal” plans on making a name for himself on fight night. And he insisted that merely showing up and competing wasn’t good enough for him. For Woodburn, it’s win or bust.
“No, I’m coming in to put on a show,” he said.
“Winning this fight is mandatory for me. There’s no slack, or nothing like that. This is not just a fight just because it’s short notice. I’m coming to fight.
“I’m coming to put on a show. I’m coming to utilize an opportunity, and maximize it to the fullest.”
And Woodburn vowed to produce a memorable display to hand Nickal his first career defeat and spring one of the biggest MMA shocks in recent years.
“I’m gonna shock the world. Yes, sir. I’m gonna look him in his eyes. After that. I’m gonna say ‘Thanks for the opportunity, but I’m the better man today.’ I’m saying ‘I wanted it more than you.'”