Though featherweight Tyler Diamond had the biggest breakthrough of his career in 2018, it’s a year that he’s ready to move on from.
Following a stint on The Ultimate Fighter 27, Diamond made his UFC debut in the series finale in July, suffering his first career loss to Bryce Mitchell. It’s a series of events that Diamond is ready to put behind him as he gets ready for his first bout of 2019.
“My experience on The Ultimate Fighter, I think I’d look back on it in a lot more positive light if things have gone how it should have – which is me winning the show,” Diamond told MMAWeekly.com. “That didn’t happen.
“I got a shot at the finale, but lost a super-close decision. So overall I don’t look back on 2018 too positively. I’m ready to turn the page and focus on this year and make this year great in terms of fighting.”
In the nine months since his bout with Mitchell, Diamond has worked on not only developing his physical game, but solidifying his mentality as he moves forward.
“There necessarily hadn’t been a big hole in my game where I had to close any gaps or anything; I’ve taken my time to just slowly focus on having fun again,” said Diamond. “Not winning the show, and then losing my UFC debut, that took a lot of steam out of me. If you’re not a strong-minded person you might fold or just hang it up and move on or whatever.
“Me, being confident, I know I’m one of the best fighters in the world, and I just need to go out and prove that, and I do that by winning. I’m just ultra-focused on getting better, staying confident, and having fun again.”
On Friday in West Valley City, Utah, Diamond (9-1) will look to get back on track when he faces Jon Neal (10-0) in the 145-pound main event of LFA 66.
“The first thing I noticed is that he’s a tough, durable, guy,” Diamond said of Neal. “He hasn’t fought in a long time, which is weird. I’m confident. He’s tough and he’s a gamer, I respect him, but if I do what I do and just go out and be violent and stay technical and fight how I fight it will be a good night for me.”
Though Diamond would like to return to the UFC sooner than later, he’s more than willing to take whatever steps are needed to ensure that happens, regardless of time.
“I’d like to win this fight and get on the Contender Series or make my UFC return, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen, so I’ll just take it one fight at a time,” said Diamond. “Once I win this fight I’ll get right back in the gym and get ready for what’s next to come.
“I’d like to make a game plan for the year, but nothing usually goes according to plan. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and am going to rally really hard to get back in there as soon as possible because I’ve had so much time off.”