Peter Barrett has waited a while, but his UFC debut is finally days away.
One of the only fighters yet to debut from Dana White’s Contender Series, Season 3 in 2019, Barrett (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will make his first promotional walk to the cage Saturday at UFC on ESPN+ 32.
While Barrett prefers his pairing with Youssef Zalal, he has a theory as to why his original matchup didn’t materialize. Barrett was initially scheduled to fight Steve Garcia, who pulled out two weeks ago.
Garcia’s withdrawal was due to undisclosed reasons. Barrett told MMA Junkie he thinks Garcia, who’s already missed weight twice before, potentially didn’t want to risk missing the mark again and getting his walking papers from the UFC.
“It’s business as usual,” Barrett said. “I did think it was a little convenient that Garcia pulled out two weeks before the fight having missed weight two of his last three fights, and his manager just so happened to have this kid (Zalal) ready and willing and able to make weight on two weeks’ notice. So without getting into too much detail there, maybe it was a chess move behind the scenes. Who knows? But I don’t think Garcia was going to be able to show up and make weight.
“So maybe he pulled some injury to get out of it. You see the UFC cut guys even if they’re winning and missing weight, so I don’t think he wanted to show up after having missed weight at (DWCS), missing weight at LFA, bumping up to 155 to fight ‘Violent Bob Ross’ (Luis Pena), and then come back down to 145 and miss weight again.”
Ultimately, Barrett thinks he landed the bigger name in Zalal (9-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who’s won his first two UFC fights and past three in a row overall. Barrett is thrilled to compete in what he thinks could be an all-out war.
“However it worked out, whoever it may be, everything happens for a reason,” Barrett said. “This is the opponent. It’s a better win on paper. Zalal is 2-0 in the UFC. Garcia was 0-1. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s a step up in competition. It’s a better win on my record and it’s a better head to have in my bag at the end of the day.”
Barrett has an array of finishes on his record and the Contender Series graduate expects to add another one on Saturday.
“I’m taking his head off,” Barrett said. “I said it before with Sang Hoon Yoo: I’m ready to put this kid’s head in Dana White’s lap. I’m here to make an impression. The fans are definitely in for – they’re definitely getting a firefight that night. They’re getting a good show. They’re getting their money’s worth.
“It’s going to be an ugly, bloody, disgusting, savage display of some highly calculated violence.”
UFC on ESPN+ 32 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.