Following a 3-1 start to his pro MMA career, bantamweight Erion Zekthi’s momentum was derailed early in 2018 when injuries sustained in an accident forced him to sit on the sidelines until now.
Not only did the accident affect Zekthi physically, but it also took some time to get his mental game straight before he could return to fighting.
“I got into a car accident in early 2018 and I’ve been out of MMA since then,” Zekthi told MMAWeekly.com. “As fighters we always feel invincible, we always feel like nothing can touch us, so when stuff like this happens you don’t feel 100% both physically and mentally.”
During his time off, Zekthi reassessed how he was training, and now feels like he’s been able to find a better way of doing things so he doesn’t burn himself out sooner than later.
“What the accident taught me more than anything is I have to listen to my body, especially as I get older,” said Zekthi. “I’m adjusting my training and what I’m doing based on what I feel. At some point it taught me that as a fighter I have to arrange my career a little bit more.
“I’ve never stopped training; I just did different kinds of training. I couldn’t run, but I went swimming; I couldn’t hit mitts, so I just did speed bag. You just kind of adapt to what your body can do and just never kind of stop. I feel like when you stop the motion, regardless of what the motion is, that’s really bad.”
On Saturday in St. Louis, Mo., Zekthi (3-1) will get back into the cage for the first time in 20 months when he faces Horacio Escobar (5-2) in the 135-pound main event of Shamrock FC 320.
“Horacio Escobar is like a dying breed of fighter: these guys who want to walk you down, bite down on their mouthpiece, throw wide or throw heavy, and they think that’s enough,” Zekthi said. “Then you have a guy like me who can literally do it all.
“I can fight going backwards. I can fight going forwards. I can do the takedowns. I have the wrestling. I have the jiu-jitsu, so I can position and submit them if I have to. I have the striking to be both a brawler in the pocket or take potshots at them with the height and reach and advantage. This the fight is going to be the culmination of a lot of things, of who I’ve become as a fighter.”
Now that he’s back to fighting, Zekthi would like to remain active in 2019 and work his way towards title contention as soon as possible.
“I think if you’re going fight by fight, you’re not doing it right,” said Zekthi. “Fighters don’t like to look past the next fight, but you’ve got to put up a plan.
“I spent the last nine months not doing shit, so I’m going to get this win on July 13, and then talk to the guys about a title fight. I’m pretty certain or I’ve fought all the local Midwest (prospects), so the next fight’s got to be for the belt.”