“My whole goal since I started fighting was to fight in the UFC, so to finally get that opportunity at my age is such a relief and such an amazing feeling,” Clements told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m 36 years old and I was wondering if my day would ever come.
“I can’t even really explain the actual emotions that went through me when I got (the call). It was probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me other than my daughter being born.”
His scheduled debut for the promotion at UFC 145 on April 21 in Atlanta is made even more special due to the fact that he almost quit before he got the opportunity.
“Before I fought Jonathon Goulet (two years ago), I almost retired a couple times,” he said. “I was getting injured a lot. The call came for Goulet and I just figured I’d give it one more shot. He’d been in the UFC and it would give me a chance at a bit of a run.
“That is when I changed my camp up. I started training with different coaches and stuff and started working more on conditioning. So when I beat Goulet it kind of gave me the drive to give it one more run.”
At UFC 145, Clements will make his debut against a fighter who made his own way to the promotion last year after over 10 years in MMA in Keith Wisniewski. It’s a fight that Clements sees a lot of parallels to the one that helped earn him his UFC shot.
“He’s a lot like Rich Clementi, actually. A lot of his wins have come on the ground, he’s extremely hard to finish, and I expect him to try to take me down a lot,” said Clements of Wisniewski.
“I don’t expect anybody in the welterweight division – with the exception of a few guys – to actually try to stand with me. Winning this fight is same as any other fight this year: stop the takedowns, maybe land a couple of my own, and keep the fight where I want it and punch him in the face.”
Unlike other fighters who may clam up when it comes to their first fight in the big show, Clements doesn’t see himself holding back when he gets his opportunity on April 21.
“I only know how to try to finish fights,” he said. “I don’t know how to go to a decision for a win; I’ve never been to one. I’ve finished all my fights by TKO or knockout and this fight won’t be any different.”
Having dealt with the anxieties of doing all he can to get into the UFC, Clements now intends to relax a bit and take in every minute of it.
“I’m still in shock and I still don’t believe I’m actually fighting in the UFC until that cage door shuts,” he said. “I’m one of those people who wouldn’t believe they’re on vacation until the plane has landed. I haven’t had a chance to think of anything after this fight. I just want to enjoy each fight as they come like this one.
“You work so hard at something and sometimes you just never know until you get it, and when it happens it’s just an amazing feeling.”