Bryan Caraway had been asking for a fight, and the UFC had an opening against Johnny Bedford at UFC 159.
The only problem was the five days’ notice.
“I couldn’t really turn it down since I was pressuring them to get me a fight,” Caraway told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I kind of felt obligated to take it, although Johnny Bedford is one of my good buddies from [‘The Ultimate Fighter’]. We were on the same team together. That made it a little awkward, but you don’t beg and ask for a fight and want to get in there and then have them give you a fight and turn it down.”
The spot came open after Bedford’s scheduled opponent, Erik Perez, withdrew due to a staph infection. On Monday of fight week, the promotion announced that Caraway was stepping in.
“When you’re training in a training camp, you can get nervous,” Caraway said. “You do have bad days and your good days and you’ll have your injuries and ups and downs and what not, and you have time to overanalyze or to break down things too much. When you take a fight on [short] notice, you’re kind of like, ‘What’s going on?’ and all of a sudden the nerves hit you all at once instead of kind of slowly, gradually dissipating and kind of working themselves out. It’s pretty much no nerves and then all of a sudden the next thing you know, you’re standing in the hallway thinking, ‘What the hell did I get myself into? Am I fighting right now? I was just drinking a beer last weekend, eating a cheeseburger.’”
Caraway found a way to win, though, submitting Bedford with a guillotine choke 4:44 into the third round. It was a welcome victory after Caraway’s split-decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki in March -- a bout he believes he won -- and also after girlfriend Miesha Tate’s tough loss to Cat Zingano at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale.
“I also wanted to erase that memory of Miesha’s fight,” Caraway said. “That was a very upsetting fight for both of us, and I just wanted to get back in that win column as soon as we could.”
After agreeing to take the bout, Caraway blitzed himself on his first day in the gym. He was told overtraining was a bad idea especially on short notice, though, and quickly scaled back and tried to have fun with his limited preparation.
It paid off. By fight time he had his body as ready as it could be and his mind prepped too.
“I just kept thinking that I’m going to break Johnny Bedford and that he doesn’t belong on my level,” Caraway said. “That’s just what you have to tell yourself every time.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:32:48).