Though he didn’t quite have the type of year he wanted in 2018, UFC welterweight Zak Ottow nonetheless had a successful year with two wins in three fights.
Looking back on his sole loss last year to Sage Northcutt at UFC Fight Night 133 in July, Ottow feels it could have been his fight to win, making it a bit more disappointing overall.
“Obviously I would have liked to have gone 3-0,” Ottow told MMAWeekly.com. “I thought that Sage fight was definitely possible to win, but there were some other factors at play there. It was going well for a while, and you hate to lose those ones that slip away from you like that.
“I started out the year early with a finish (of Mike Pyle at UFC 222). Then I was able to get that fight in my hometown (versus Dwight Grant at UFC on FOX 31), which was a great experience I’ll be able to take with me. It was a pretty cool year for being in the UFC in 2018, but I have bigger plans in 2019.”
Having come out on the losing end of split-decisions before, Ottow is especially happy to have had one go his way in his final bout of 2018 against Grant in December.
“I thought the first round was a toss-up, and (Grant) won the second round, so I thought I had to go out there and just to be safe get a finish,” said Ottow. “I wanted to try to take him down and see where that would take me. I was able to get the takedown and at least secure the round, but I didn’t know where it would leave me with the judges with the first round up in the air.”
At UFC on ESPN+ 4 on March 9 in Wichita, Kansas, Ottow (17-6) will look to build a winning streak when he faces Alex Morono (15-5) in a 170-pound preliminary bout.
“I’ve been calling for it for a while, and (Morono has) been calling for it for a while too, so now we actually get a chance to meet and see who the winner is,” Ottow said. “He’s a tough, well-rounded, guy who likes to throw down, so that will be fun and exciting I think.
“In previous fights where I’m fighting a very one-dimensional fighter, so I’m trying to keep it out of that one area, and it kind of puts me into a box as far as where I can fight. I’m well-rounded, so I feel like in this fight I can mix in all the different disciplines and try to finish in multiple ways instead of just trying to keep the fight in one spot.”
Over 10 years into his career, Ottow feels now is the time for him to make his move towards the top of the UFC’s welterweight division.
“It’s all starting to come together now at the age of 32,” said Ottow. “I’ve been at this for a while. I still feel I’m at my prime athletically and physically. I think these next couple of years is when I’ll reach my full potential.
“Compared to other weight classes, we have like double the amount on the roster. What you have to do to break into the Top 15 in this weight class is crazy. With three wins that will put me up there where I want to be: fighting those top-level guys with a chance to fight for the title.”