Over the past two years few fighters have gone through as rough of a stretch in their careers as bantamweight Martin Day has.
Following a split-decision loss to Pingyuan Liu at UFC Fight Night 141 in November, 2018, Day has been on the sidelines, unable to fight first due to injury issues, then due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve had tough times since my last going at the end of 2018,” Day told MMAWeekly.com. “I had an injury; and it was the first time in my career amateur or pro that I had to pull out of a fight because of the injury; and having to do that twice now that I’m in the UFC kind of sucks.
“Then I was ready to go back a few months ago and then the pandemic happened, so that stopped that.”
Throughout his difficulties, Day has remained upbeat, and has used his time off to better himself as a fighter as much as he can.
“You’ve got to keep a positive outlook,” said Day. “I never entertained the thought that I’d never be able to fight. I was pretty positive the whole time. That’s just me.
“When I was injured and not fighting I was using it to work on areas of my game that I needed; my strength and conditioning, my strength in particular. I wasn’t just sitting around. I was using it. I was working on these areas.”
On July 11 at UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, Day (9-3) will have his first fight in nearly two years when he faces Davey Grant (9-4) in the event-opening preliminary bout at UFC 251: Usman vs. Burns.
“He’s a dangerous opponent, but everyone in the UFC is a dangerous opponent,” Day said of Grant. “I’ve got to make sure I’m not playing into his strengths and his skillset. I’m going in there and I’m dictating the pace of the fight.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that I usually keep the fight on the feet. I think my striking is going to be a little too much to deal with, so eventually he’ll try to get me down to the ground and submit me, but I feel I’ll be able to stop his takedowns, and be able to do what I’ve got to on the feet to hopefully get the finish.”
While Grant usually takes a more deliberate pace with things, his lack of activity the past two years has him wanting to make up for lost time and be as active as he can be in 2020.
“I like to take things as they come, one fight at a time, but one thing I do want to do is be as active as possible,” said Day. “Especially since the year is half gone, after July 11 I want to get back in there as soon as possible.
“Hopefully I come out of this fight without an injury and I’m able to get back in there ASAP. I take it one fight at a time but I want to be active this year – very active.”