After missing much of the first half of the year due to injury, welterweight Zak Ottow was able to return to action in June and pick up a split-decision victory over Kiichi Kunimoto at UFC Fight Night 110 in June.
Though he had under a month to prepare for the bout, combined with the travel to New Zealand, Ottow feels like he was able to overcome those issues and have decent enough performance to get the win.
“I took the fight on a little bit shorter notice; I had a little over three weeks; but I liked the match-up and I was looking to get back in there around that time,” Ottow told MMAWeekly.com. “I was already training and stuff pretty hard and looking for the next fight that came in.
“I thought I definitely won the first two rounds. I was surprised it was a split-decision, but at least I got the win. It was kind of hard to prepare for that one. I didn’t really know what to expect. I just focused on myself and get the job done.”
Ottow (15-4) will look to close out his 2017 on a winning streak when he faces Li Jingliang (13-4) in a preliminary 170-pound bout at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai, China, on November 25.
“Li brings the fight,” said Ottow. “He pushes the pace. He has power in his right hand. Even if he gets dropped, he comes back strong. A lot of times he’s lost the first round, comes back and is able to get the W. He’s good everywhere, but I think I’m just a bit better everywhere.
“A lot of other guys were kind of runners; when you come in for a combination they would just evade. He stands in the pocket a bit more. It’s going to be an exciting fight for people to watch. Hopefully I’m able to see some openings and take advantage of them.”
Having had his previous two bouts in New Zealand and Brazil, Ottow is looking forward to getting to experience China, but wouldn’t remind returning to the United States for his next bout.
“I like the opportunity for sure to go around and get more fan exposure around the world,” Ottow said. “And to get the experience, we’re there for about a week, so I get a little time to take in the scenery and take in the experience of travelling.
“But this is my third one in a row, it would be nice to get one on US soil for my next one, but I don’t mind travelling. It will be my fourth continent to fight on, so that pretty much just leaves me with Europe after this one and I’ll have pretty much wherever you can fight.”
Should Ottow pick up his third win in four UFC fights on November 25, he’s looking to work his way up the ranks in 2018 in hopes of reaching his full potential in the years to come.
“I’ve got a tough opponent (in Li), so a win here can really set me up going forward with the UFC,” said Ottow. “I’m looking to keep climbing that ladder. I want to keep moving forward, beating guys who are ranked ahead of me.
“Maybe in another year I’ll be in my prime, so I’m expecting big things in 2019. But 2018 will hopefully be a more steadily climb, inching my way towards those top 10, top 15, match-ups.”