SACRAMENTO, Calif. – For two years, Joe Soto and Jon Jones were both roommates and wrestling teammates at Iowa Central Community College. Jones, of course, has gone on to become UFC light heavyweight champion and the world’s best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist. Soto has a respectable MMA career in his own right, as the former Bellator featherweight and current Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion. And now that he unexpectedly had an opportunity to win UFC gold dumped into his lap, Soto is using his former roommate as inspiration as he looks to pull off what would be one of the most remarkable upsets in MMA history.
If he can do it, I can do it, Soto told reporters on Friday, after weighing in for his UFC bantamweight title fight against champion T.J. Dillashaw. Even he wouldn’t have expected to be as great as he is. So I mean, greatness is right there. Anybody can attain it. It’s just mental, you have to believe. Friday was going to be a big day for Soto regardless. The Northern California-based fighter has been at this since 2006, making his pro debut at age 19, and was going to weigh in for his long-awaited UFC debut, against Anthony Birchak.
Soto had already gotten down to the non-title limit of 136 pounds and was in his hotel room relaxing when the UFC came calling. I had just gotten done making 36 for my fight and I was on the bathroom floor naked on the tiles trying to cool off, Soto said. I walk out kind of like, laying in my bed, and they were like ‘hey dude, the UFC is calling you.’ I was like, ‘what are they calling me for?’ So I answer it and the matchmakers told me they wanted to go down and talk to me, it was an emergency.
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