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Julian Erosa Harnessed His Mindset

Back-To-Back Wins Has Julian Erosa In Position To Make A Real Push At UFC Fight Night: The Korean Zombie vs Dan Ige

Some things don’t show up on a fighter’s win-loss record. Having said that, Sean Woodson and Nate Landwehr probably didn’t have a chance when they fought Julian Erosa.

That record didn’t show the endless hours in the gym over a decade of mixed martial arts, the fights in the middle of nowhere with little attention and even less money, the explanations to passengers as he made ends meet as an Uber driver, or the determination that comes with knowing that another loss would likely mean a final cut from the UFC.

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“I just got in that mind state of being willing to die in there,” said Erosa of his 2020 return to the UFC. “And I know I'm not going to legitimately die but you have that mindset going in there, and once you have that mindset stepping into that cage, nothing's gonna stop you. You have to get turned off. There are some guys you see, it almost seems like they're fighting not to lose instead of fighting to win and, for me, I think I had gotten a little complacent in my mind before a few fights. And the last few fights that I've had, I went in there with the do or die mentality and if you're gonna beat me, you're gonna have to turn me off.”

Julian Erosa reacts after his TKO victory over Nate Landwehr in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Julian Erosa reacts after his TKO victory over Nate Landwehr in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The previously unbeaten Woodson was submitted in the third round of their June 2020 fight, and Landwehr was stopped in less than a minute in February. Erosa’s 1-4 Octagon record was now 3-4, and as he enters Saturday’s bout with SeungWoo Choi, he has the opportunity to hit the .500 mark in the UFC and truly chase after the dreams he’s always had as a pro fighter.

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That doesn’t mean he’s forgotten what it took to get here or what was said about him on the lead-up to his last two bouts.

“There were a lot of people saying I was a sheep going to get slaughtered,” he said of the chatter before he faced Woodson. As for Landwehr, Erosa was getting trash-talked by the man he was facing, not Twitter trolls.

Julian Erosa Delivers a Flying Knee To End It | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis
Julian Erosa Delivers a Flying Knee To End It | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis
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“In interviews he was talking about how I've been knocked out before and it's gonna be easy to knock me out, too,” Erosa recalled. “And we go in there and I knock him out.”

It was the greatest revenge.

“They don't see what goes on in the gym,” he said. “They're not doing the in and out rounds with us.”

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And they didn’t see what the Seattle native has seen. 

“I think experience is probably the most important thing,” said the 31-year-old. “For me, the last three fights that I had, I got into a place of being desperate - I was desperate for a win and they say a desperate man's a dangerous man and I think you get some of these guys who get a little too comfortable, and you can lose fights like that.”

Erosa knows all about getting comfortable because he’s been there before. 

Julian Erosa punches Sean Woodson in their fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Julian Erosa punches Sean Woodson in their fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“You can get complacent,” said the 25-9 pro. “I don't think like that anymore. In my mind right now, June 19th is the last day of my life. So I'm going in there and I don't think about anything after that. After the fight, I can think about whatever, but up until that fight and during that fight, that's the last day that I'm gonna be on this Earth, in my mind.”

At this level, mindset is often what separates the haves from the have nots, especially when Erosa and his peers compete on a stage where everyone can fight. Erosa could always fight, but when it came to the little things, he was coming up short. And when his second stint in the UFC turned into three losses against Devonte Smith, Grant Dawson and Julio Arce, he wondered whether his fighting career had run its course.

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“Before my last little skid in the UFC where I went 0-3, I had never lost more than one fight in a row in my entire career,” he said. “So that can definitely be a little frustrating and can really make you start thinking if fighting is for me or should I do something else.” 

 

Julian Erosa poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Julian Erosa poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

What did that something else look like?

“Before I got into fighting, I was going to school for accounting, but had transitioned in my mind that I would possibly like to be a math teacher,” he said. “I had done a lot of math tutoring when I was in college, so I figured I would enjoy teaching.”

Math? No one likes math. 

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“That's why it's good for me,” he laughs. “A lot of people don't like math, so there's gonna be a lot of openings.”

True, but at the moment, this fighting stuff is going just fine for “Juicy J,” who is in a lot different place today than he was a year ago. And while he doesn’t want to look past this weekend’s meeting with Choi, he’s not focusing on the past, either.

“I've harnessed a little bit of consistency my last three fights and I just want to keep that momentum alive and just keep going in there with the same mind state,” Erosa said. “I know where I need to be mentally leading up into the fight so I can perform where I need to perform. If I can just hold on to that, no matter what happens in the cage, I know I'll be able to perform to my fullest capacity while I'm in there. 

“Believe in yourself, go in there prepared to go a hundred percent and I think you can be a dangerous person.”