This past November, Austin Arnett lived out a dream.
The 27-year-old Washington native defeated Peru’s Humberto Bandenay via unanimous decision, knocking off a bucket list item in the process.
“The monkey is off my back,” Arnett told FloCombat. “I got in the UFC and lost the first two — and [this past bout] was a ride-or-die fight. I was either going to win that fight and keep moving forward or lose that fight and end up getting cut.
"With a loss, I would have had to go fight somewhere else and build back up and all of that bullsh*t, which would’ve sucked. It was a high-pressure situation, which I love. Going into someone else’s country and saving my job — that was kind of what I think I needed.”
Putting his excitement aside, Arnett feels his first UFC win is similar to his losses in the greater scheme. Arnett views both victories and defeats as opportunities to move toward the ultimate goal: improvement.
Suffering back-to-back losses against Cory Sandhagen and Hakeem Dawodu to kick off his UFC tenure, Arnett believes the growth gained through his most difficult experiences is invaluable.
“Those were two great learning experiences,” Arnett said. “Those fights will age well. People will look back and go, ‘Oh, well he did have a rough start, but damn he fought two of the top guys in the UFC.’ I think they will age better than they looked at first sight.
“It’s definitely good to get tough fights. I want tough fights, and learning from those two and building off of that will definitely help me in the long run.”
The Sikjitsu Fighting Systems product will bring this acquired knowledge into the UFC Octagon when he returns to action this Saturday at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, against Shane Young. Analyzing his matchup, Arnett believes Young doesn’t present the level of threat that Sandhagen or Dawodu did.
“He’s not a big power puncher or super fast or anything,” Arnett said. “I fought two of the more explosive, fast athletes in the UFC with Sandhagen and Dawodu. To see those two guys and then see him, [Young] is not really comparable to the guys I’ve fought.
“I’ll be exploiting his speed disadvantage he’ll have in this fight. He does the same thing every fight: He plots forward and throws punches with a takedown every once and while. He’s pretty basic and you kind of know what you’re getting with him.”
While he hones a tremendous amount of faith in his own abilities, Arnett has a huge amount of respect for what Young brings to the table. Simply put, he isn’t taking the Aussie lightly.
“He’s tough,” Arnett said. “He takes a good shot and hasn’t been finished. I know it’s going to be tough putting him away.
“I got that first win the last time and now I’m looking to get that first finish. Putting back-to-back-wins together is hard to do in the UFC. A lot of people can’t do that. That’s what I’m looking to do.”