When “Ultimate Fighter” season 8 winner Efrain Escudero got home from his fight against Charles Oliveira, he may have expected a call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, but not for the reason the phone started ringing that day.
A late change in opponents had Escudero facing Oliveira instead of John Gunderson as originally scheduled. The Arizona native put up a tough fight, but ended up being submitted by the Brazilian upstart in the third round of their bout at UFC Fight Night in September.
The defeat put Escudero’s record at 3-2 in the UFC, having flip-flopped between wins and losses over his last 4 fights. Still, when Escudero answered the phone and Joe Silva was on the other line, the shock washed over him like a tidal wave.
“It was that Monday after my fight and I came back home from my parent’s and stuff, and first of all I was disappointed in my performance in the fight. I was kind of like sleeping, I had other things in my head instead of worrying about fighting. I’ll give it to (Charles) Oliveira, he capitalized on that little mistake and he came to fight, but I don’t know where I was at,” Escudero told MMAWeekly Radio.
“Joe Silva was just like ‘we’re releasing you’ and at first I was like ‘whoa’, I didn’t know what to say, I was speechless. They know what they’re doing and for me it was weird because I don’t have consecutive losses. Yes, I lost to (Evan) Dunham, but Dunham’s one of the top guys right now, and I also lost to Oliveira, which are the only two losses in my whole career.”
While Escudero didn’t exactly go through the five stages of grief, he still hasn’t really swallowed the pill that he is no longer in the UFC.
“Still to this day, it doesn’t make sense,” Escudero said.
A major point in the final decision may have been Escudero’s mistake of missing weight for his last fight. He admits that throughout his past as a wrestler cutting weight has become a science, but on that day and for that fight for some reason his body just shut down and wouldn’t let him cut the addition few pounds needed.
Whatever the ultimate reason was for Escudero’s prompt exit from the UFC, he doesn’t want to be known as only the second reality show winner to ever be cut from the promotion. He wants the chance to prove himself and that his victory on season 8 of the “Ultimate Fighter” was no fluke.
“I will be back in the UFC, I do not know when,” Escudero stated. “I want to get back to the UFC and give Dana White what he originally hired me to do and beat up people.”
Until that day comes, Escudero is staying busy and already has another fight on his plate to help erase the memories of the last time he stepped in the cage. Escudero will next fight in former WEC featherweight Chance Farrar’s Desert Rage promotion in Yuma, Ariz.
“I’m actually fighting in my hometown Nov 19th,” said Escudero. “I’m doing this in my hometown and my hometown always supports me 100%, and every time I fight in Las Vegas and like 1/3 of the city is up in Vegas supporting me. So it’s always been my dream to come to them and fight locally.”
The other thing that Escudero will be doing is donating his entire fight purse to a friend who was diagnosed with cancer recently. Escudero says it’s his way of giving back, and if anyone else would like to donate to the cause, his friend’s family has set up a Wells Fargo account that fans and supporters can donate to. The Wells Fargo account is 9373511634 if anyone wishes to donate.
As for Escudero, he may be out of the UFC, but he’s not down and out for his fight career. He plans on fighting Nov. 19 and then hopes to make a major move to get back into the spotlight once again. The UFC may be one chapter in Escudero’s career, but he’s determined to finish the book on his terms.