While he didn’t have a lot of fights in 2022 and didn’t have the kind of outcomes he would have liked, lightweight Evan Elder was nonetheless pleased with how the year turned out.
As he views it, the fact that he was able to make it into the UFC and make some headway in his training, the fact he suffered a defeat in his UFC debut last April to Preston Parsons at UFC Fight Night isn’t what is important to him coming out of 2022.
“I only fought one time, so as far as my career it was a big moment for me, because it was my first fight in the UFC, but it didn’t go as planned,” Elder told MMAWeekly.com. “I got the call on short-noticed and stuff, and that’s the way it goes. In terms of fights I didn’t have a lot of them but I did have an important one.
“More importantly than the fights themselves, just getting in the gym and training and getting better, it was a very productive year.”
Elder gives a lot of credit to the athletes he shares a room with for his growth, because as he puts it, you evolve and improve or fall behind.
“I got a lot of mat time, putting work in, and it’s been good, very good,” said Elder. “It’s not that I necessarily added anything specific or new, but it’s elaborating and deepening the understanding I already have and building a skillset I already have.
“I train at one of the best gyms in the world, and being in a room full of killers like that you’re either going to sink or you’re going to swim. You’re constantly refining things and figuring out how to make your techniques work better, how to land them and make them work.”
This Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Elder (7-1) will look to get back on the winning track when he faces Nazim Sadykhov (7-1) in a preliminary 155-pound bout at UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs. Blanchfield.
“Nazim looks very tough,” Elder said. “I was very impressed watching him on the Contender Series before I knew I was going to fight him. I feel like he does a lot of things well.
“He’s going to come straight forward and pressure more, and more so try to box me and make it a striking stand-up battle, so I’m going to have to mix it up and mix in the grappling. I’m going to have to use the walls, take him to the ground, set up my strikes with my wrestling, and just be a more complete mixed martial artist on that night.”
Never knowing what could happen next, Elder chooses to take things as they come during his 2023 rather than looking too far ahead of himself.
“I really think it is better to go one fight at a time,” said Elder. “We can’t look past this fight.
“We’ve put everything into fight camps and this is our whole life up until that date, and on that date you never know what’s going to happen, so I think it’s best to take it fight by fight, day by day and improve. Just making it through that fight is the biggest goal and we’ll figure it out after that.”