After solidifying a contract through Dana White’s Contender Series, Joe Solecki will officially make his UFC debut against Matt Wiman at UFC on ESPN 7.
At 26 years old, Solecki has done more than most his age, including signing a UFC contract. Growing up, he didn’t find fun in the things normal kids were into. Instead, Joe found Jiu-Jitsu early on, which showed him a different way of life.
From there, he knew his life wouldn’t be normal.
Taking A Slow Route
Joe has won his first three pro fights via submission. During his come-up, many underestimated his well-rounded skill set and associated Solecki with jiu-jitsu only. Although a smarter fighter today, Joe will admit that much of how he fought before was to prove to others he had more tools in his box.
“Going through adversity was all I needed to prove to myself and others, that I have that heart to come back from it and be tough.”
Solecki’s first loss was a drag out type-fight. Since, he’s been able to showcase his striking. He is competitive as one would assume, however, he spent so much time losing as a kid. It’s what fuels him today, or as Joe would say, it’s a “good remedy to never get a big head.” Joe uses his losses as motivation to ensure he’s training more and harder than most.
“I’ll always be a guy that loss twice.”
Getting to this point is something he’ll be proud of, but right now it’s not enough. Don’t expect Solecki to be calling out a top-15 lightweight anytime soon either, it’s not his style.
He feels lucky enough to be part of MMA in the mainstream light at such a young age, but he wants a long career with UFC, so Joe is willing to take it slow.
Passing The Torch
Thankfully for Solecki, he’s in fight camp mode all year, and this time it paid off. UFC announced that Solecki will be fighting in Washington D.C. last month. There, he will make his long awaited debut in one of UFC’s toughest and most stacked divisions.
Although fighting at lightweight brings plenty of high-caliber opponents at the top, Joe is more focused on the pace of his career. He feels most guys during his come up will be gone or only fighting money fights by the time he starts getting top-10 ranked opponents.
“Seeing guys who are well known now, there will be a passing of the torch eventually,” said Solecki. “I’m not good enough to worry about those guys yet, I need to worry about me getting better every day.”
He may have been a fan of the Justin Gaethje’s and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s growing up, but he’s not worried about the upper echelon of the division right now.
The Secret Sauce: Being Surrounded by Great People
Fighting not only kept Solecki on the right track, he was able to surround himself with positive influences and great role models throughout the years. Many athletes may say something similar, but fighting literally changed Solecki’s life.
When you ask Joe about his coaches or his wife, he’ll be the first to admit it’s his favorite thing to talk about. They’re a group of individuals who picked up the slack when his family didn’t approve of fighting at the beginning of his career.
Living and training in North Carolina now, Solecki currently works with guys that are bigger than him, who push him the most every day. After knowing college wasn’t the path for him and going through times where he needed to find a job, everything in his career has fallen into place perfectly.
It has truly been something out of a movie. One of those scenes being his relationship with his boxing coach, Chris Goude. Ever since 2015, their bond has grown through every fight camp. A bond that Joe admits is important to have in this sport.
“He’s the best coach in the world for me… Find those core people and stick to those core people.”
Since they started, Chris always said Joe was gonna get to UFC. However, the road to success is long for some, and Joe never thought he would ever pay him back with success.
Come December 7, he gets to walk out of the UFC arena with him. An experience Joe feels his coach deserves; to have that reward of coach at the highest level.
Listen to our full interview with Joe Solecki on The Scrap’s official SoundCloud:
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Joel Torres is a co-owner of The Scrap and its current CEO. Torres is obsessed with MMA and holds a Masters of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology from University of Southern California. Make sure to follow Joel on Twitter (@joeyfights).