He may be far away, but he’s moving pretty fast to get to where he wants to go. A winner on season four of Dana White’s Contender Series last September, Nchukwi earned his UFC contract with a highlight reel knockout of Al Matavao, a victory that followed a 2:30 TKO of William Knight, and three months later, he was debuting in the big show with a three-round unanimous decision over Jamie Pickett. It was Nchukwi’s first fight to go the distance, but he didn’t miss a beat while picking up valuable experience.
“It was a very important learning experience for me because going the distance gives me more time in the ring, and I get to watch myself now, and I learned a lot from that fight,” said Nchukwu, who now makes his home in Maryland. “It’s a very important thing to have a little bit more experience and time in there, because I can see a lot of things I can do better, and I’ll keep improving on what I need to.”
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What he’s improved on over the last four-plus months will be on display when he faces South Korea’s Park Junyong this Saturday in Las Vegas. Park, who has won his last two UFC bouts after debuting with a loss in 2019, has the edge in experience, both in the Octagon and overall, over Nchukwi, and though “Da Don” is cool as a nickname, it can’t compare to “The Iron Turtle” one owned by Park. Bet Nchukwi never thought he’d be fighting someone with that moniker.
“That one definitely was not in the dream,” he laughs. “But, hey, I’m with it. It’s happening.”
It is, and it’s going to be in the same place where Nchukwi won his last two fights, the UFC APEX. It’s not exactly a home game, but it is a familiar setting for the 30-year-old that he should be able to use to his advantage, even if a look at the UFC 261 card in Jacksonville the night before our chat has him ready, willing and able to get into a fistfight with a crowd cheering him on.
“That was a big amp up watching the fights last night,” he said of the April 24th event headlined by Kamaru Usman’s knockout of Jorge Masvidal. “I still haven’t had a fight in the UFC with a crowd yet, so that just made me look forward to everything opening back up and all the new events to come through. So hopefully after this one I’m gonna have one with a crowd and get to feel that energy.”