Just when things were starting to take off for lightweight Joe Solecki, the novel coronavirus put a halt, albeit temporarily, to the momentum he had built.
After earning a UFC contract with a win at Dana White’s Contender Series in July of 2019, Solecki was successful in his promotional debut five months later against Matt Wiman. It wouldn’t be until the following September that Solecki would be able to return to the UFC with a win over Austin Hubbard.
“I fought at the end of 2019 and I was super eager to get back in there again right away,” Solecki told MMAWeekly.com. “Right about the time I should have gotten back in there, everything hit.
“We had to batten down the hatches and do what everyone else was. We made it work with the situation. It was a good year to focus on basics in life and also fighting, and I got to chip away at my weaknesses which is good.”
Even when he’s able to be in camp more consistently, Solecki feels like he’s able to grow rather than just having to maintain what he already has.
“I think I’m getting better every single day,” said Solecki. “I think I’m still in that phase in my career where I can still make big leaps and bounds between fights and not just polish things, and pick up entirely new skills.
“Anytime I get long breaks between fights, I can come back and show that I’m a different fighter in a sense.”
Joe Solecki faces Jim Miller at UFC on ABC 2
On April 10 in Las Vegas, Solecki (10-2) will look to pick up his sixth win in a row when he faces off against Jim Miller (32-15) in a preliminary lightweight bout at UFC on ABC 2.
“I’m very fortunate to be in this spot against a guy like Jim Miller, who is highly ranked and highly touted,” Solecki said. “I think it’s the perfect type of opponent to show how much I’ve grown and what I’m capable of.
“I think it’s going to be a grind, a very tough fight for me, so I’ve got to make sure that I stay disciplined through all three rounds. If I do that and I fight for every single position and to win each exchange, I get my hand raised.”
Having experienced plans falling through in the past for one reason or another, Solecki is just looking to take each opportunity as it comes in 2021.
“I think in the past in the regional scene, I made the mistake of being promised a title shot with a win or other opportunities or if I win getting a call to the big show, and when you start worrying about that stuff, you worry about it so much that you mess up the task at hand so that the thing you were so focused on never happens,” said Solecki.
“I focus on one thing at a time because I never know what’s going to happen every single day. I focus on what’s in front of me and nothing before and nothing after.”