Andre Fili's first fight in the UFC went well enough for him to earn a second round TKO victory, but it did not go well enough to leave the 23-year-old fighter satisfied with his performance. On April 26, when he faces Max Holloway at UFC 172 Fili will look to correct that, and live up to his own high expectations.
Fili's (13-1) first go round in the UFC came when he stepped in on very short notice to face Jeremy Larsen at UFC 166. Fili got the call just two weeks before the October 19 fight date. When he took the call to replace Charles Oliveira on that card he was 30 pounds over the 145 pound featherweight limit. With that much weight to cut, and that little time in which to do it, Fili had little time to enjoy the process of joining the UFC.
"Everything was so rushed and forced," Fili told The MMA Hour. "Everything was so last minute, I really didn't get to enjoy the experience of my first UFC. Weighing in and all the promotion, and everything that comes with being on your first UFC card. I just had to focus on the weight cut. This one's gone a lot smoother and I'm really thankful for that."
On his fight against Larsen, which drew the praise of UFC president Dana White, Fili said, "I wasn't completely myself. I'm not very happy with my performance in my first fight. I'm obviously happy to get the win and to be in the UFC and to have a such a great experience, but I wasn't happy with my performance."
Stepping in to face Larsen on short notice while far over weight was a tough situation, but tough conditions are not something that Fili is unaccustomed to. Those types of situations are also not something that Fili shies away from, "I'm not scared of confrontation, or physical violence," said Fili. "I'm not really gun shy."
Some of that may have to do with his rough upbringing, an upbringing that Fili recalled while appearing on The MMA Hour. Fili recalled that his father was abusive toward his mother, a mother who was in turn violent toward Fili and his younger sister. "It was an unhealthy place to grow up, but you work through it and I'm older now and it's not a big deal," Fili said. "I have a much better relationship with my mom and my dad just got out of prison and we talk a little bit. I don't try to dwell on the past too much. All the violent shit growing up is still a part of me, but it's not something I dwell on, I just kind of use it as fuel - turn it into a positive."