There were no words for Darrick Minner when he finally put his name on an official UFC contract.
Minner will make his official debut for the promotion this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 169 live on ESPN+ from the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
He was tabbed as a replacement for Chas Skelly to face Grant Dawson in a featherweight contest. The card features Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo meeting for the vacant flyweight belt.
For Minner, 34 fights into his career, he finally gets to compete with the big boys.
“My emotions was a relief, finally,” he told MMA Futures. “I had the biggest high of emotions I’ve ever had. It was probably the greatest feeling I’ve ever had. But now, the next day, it was business as usual.”
That meant training, training and more training.
Minner spends at least two hours a day at Premier Combat Center perfecting his skills before transitioning over to Minner-Gray Performance and Fitness to coach and do more drilling. He admits he has been “staying in shape” for just this kind of opportunity.
The native of Nebraska City, Nebraska is 24-10 overall with 21 of those victories coming via submission. At 29 years old, Minner will be looking to stretch his win streak to three in a row since a loss to Herbert Burns.
Minner’s bout with Burns, though, serves as a key building block to his moment. The contest took part on Season 3 of Dana White’s Contender Series. That meant UFC president Dana White was front-and-center for the action.
“I think the Contender Series helps in dealing with all the interviews,” Minner said. “The process of everything is similar, just not as spread out. Plus, it was probably my most difficult fight just because you are fighting in front of 100 people and the bosses trying to make dreams come true.
“I believe it will be just like stepping in every other cage. I’ve been around and fought in a lot of cages. A bigger crowd, but similar emotions going in.”
As for the end result, Minner sees that already as well.
“The outcome will be me shocking the world and getting my hand raised no matter the circumstances,” he said.