After two fights in two weeks that included a short notice UFC debut, a win in that debut, and all the fanfare that followed it, you might think Trey Waters was tired of talking about anything related to prizefighting.
“I'm loving it all,” laughed Waters, who looked like a seasoned Octagon vet in scoring a shutout three-round unanimous decision over Josh Quinlan on April 29. “It's a dream come true. I've been visualizing it for so long. I've been watching the UFC, imagining myself being in there, imagining my last name on the shorts and on the fight kits. And now that it's actually a thing, it's just so surreal. It's hard for me to comprehend it all, to be honest.”
It's real, Mr. Waters. So real that now the 28-year-old from Jacksonville can look at the rest of the welterweight division and begin plotting his own path to the top.
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“It's such an exciting thing,” he said. “It’s similar to what (UFC light heavyweight champion) Jamahal Hill said in an interview that all this time, he just wanted an opportunity. He just wanted to be able to know how good he was, and he wanted to test himself to see for himself. Is he really good enough? And to have that as a reality, it's just unexplainable. I’m so excited to get in here and test myself, especially after fighting Josh, somebody who's such a savage and who’s had a lot of success already at this high level. So it means a lot for me to go in there, have a performance like that against a guy like that and see where that places me now and what is to come.”
Waters is in an entirely different world than he was at the beginning of April. Then, he was preparing for his first start since a loss to Gabriel Bonfim on season six of Dana White’s Contender Series last September. That defeat was the first of his pro career, and while he knew he had the potential to compete in the UFC, he knew it was going to take a couple wins to get there.
Or maybe just one.
Waters knocked out Jalin Fuller in the second round of their LFA bout on April 14, then he waited for the next call for the next fight. He didn’t know it would come in the next week. Not that he cared about all the questions about short notice, making weight, the opponent, etc.
“I didn't second guess it once,” Waters said. “I was a hundred percent on board. As soon as my manager hit me up and he was asking about fighting on next Saturday’s UFC, I said, yes, a hundred percent, let's do it. And I got off the phone with him without even asking who it is. So I looked up the card and I see that the only welterweights were Ange Loosa and Josh Quinlan. I'm like, man, I don't care who it is. Either one.”
It was Quinlan, and in stepped Waters to replace Loosa. It turned out to be bad news for Quinlan, as “The Truth” was just that on fight night, using his 6-foot-5-inch frame to control the action from start to finish. It was the kind of UFC debut all newcomers crave, and while he admits with a laugh to now wearing the UFC gear around town, he earned it. Now he’s hungry for more.
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“Man, I really can't wait to get back in there,” he said. “I truly can't.”