Looking back over the last two years, lightweight Thomas Gifford couldn’t be much happier with how things have turned out.
Not only has Gifford gone undefeated over the course of his last five fights, but he’s particularly happy with how he was able to handle himself in his most recent win over Chris Brown last October in V3 Fights.
“I’m on a five-fight winning streak,” Gifford told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve finished all my opponents (during that streak) but one. At the end of the year I had a three round war with A Jackson-Wink guy (in Brown) and it really put me on the map, showing that I could take a beating and still pull out the outcome over a fighter of that caliber.
“I put it in my mind to beat him, and I did. I didn’t do it how I wanted to; I almost got him in the first round, but he ended up pulling out of the submission and taking me all three rounds. It was a hard fight. I took a lot of punches, he took a lot of punches, but I just kept coming forward and pushing through, and got the decision.”
What has worked particularly well for Gifford over his winning streak is a change in his strategy; in particular how he deals with wrestling-based opponents.
“I hated getting beat by a wrestler because they would hold me down and I couldn’t hit them,” said Gifford. “That was my problem – I would lay there and get beat up. I’ve lost teeth because of it. I’ve had concussions. I’ve had lots of trouble just from being like that.
“I changed my game plan up to where I would stay long, stay lengthy, and I would make them shoot a bad shot. I would let them get close. I wouldn’t over-throw my punches. I wouldn’t start leaning forward trying to chase them. I would stay back and use my reach.”
On Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., Gifford (17-7) will look to extend his winning streak when he faces Roosevelt Roberts (7-0) in a 155-pound preliminary bout at UFC on ESPN+ 8.
“I think my experience is really going to take this fight; not because I’ve had all these fights; but because he’s never been to the second or third round after a war,” Gifford said of Roberts. “He’s never been punished. He’s always been the puncher or aggressor; he’s never been on the side of that. I’m planning on sticking and moving and making him be on the other side.”
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Now that he’s made it to the UFC, Gifford will leave the details to his team and keep his mind to whatever gets lined up for him next.
“I’m leaving everything to my management team,” said Gifford. “They’re going to take good care of me. I also believe in my coaches, and I’m going to trust them and let them guide me. They know way more about this than I do. I’m just relying on the good lord and them to guide me through.”