Jamie Mullarkey Puts Himself In The Driver’s Seat
Back in January, roughly five weeks out from his appearance at UFC 284 in Perth, the 28-year-old from Central Coast received word that his opponent, Nasrat Haqparast, would be unable to compete and was forced to withdraw, leaving him to share the Octagon with promotional newcomer Francisco Prado
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Earlier this week, Mullarkey got word that the man he was scheduled to face on Saturday, Guram Kutateladze, was out of their bout, replaced by former Dana White’s Contender Series competitor Muhammad Naimov.
“It’s just a crazy sport that we’re in,” Mullarkey said on Wednesday when asked about the recurring theme of opponent withdrawals. “I am getting pretty used to it now. I’m just stoked that they got me someone to fight so I can get paid.”
While situations arise that results in athletes being unable to make scheduled dates, the unfortunate thing for Mullarkey is that each of his last two original opponents are competitors that have struggled to find their way into the Octagon for various reasons over the course of their careers.
After being paired with Haqparast, facing Prado, and signing up to share the cage with Kutateldaze, one couldn’t blame the ascending lightweight if he went into camp half expecting that “The Georgian Viking” wouldn’t be the man standing across from him this weekend. Since debuting in the UFC with a split decision win over Mateusz Gamrot on Fight Island in October 2020, Kutateladze has been booked to compete five times, but only made it to the Octagon once, dropping a split decision to Damir Ismagulov last June.
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But that wasn’t the case for Mullarkey.
“That wasn’t in my head at all really because I didn’t know any of his history about withdrawing from fights,” explained Mullarkey, who enters on a two-fight winning streak. “We were just preparing for the fight, still focusing on myself, anyway, still preparing for Kutateladze.
“It just is what it is, man; these things happen.”
Maybe Mullarkey wouldn’t be so unaffected about frequently encountering late opponent switches if he weren’t in the midst of a run of good form, but after dropping each of his first two appearances inside the Octagon, he’s put together four wins in his last five outings, with his only setback coming against Top 15 standout Jalin Turner.
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Watching his fights, tracking his progress, it’s pretty clear to see that with each successive appearance, Mullarkey has grown more comfortable competing on the biggest stage in the sport, and trusting in his abilities inside the cage.
“That’s exactly it,” he said when asked about settling in and finding a good rhythm over his last five outings. “The more I fight with the company, the more I know that I belong here. I’m fighting tough guys, and it just seems more and more familiar every time I step in here. Every time I step in here, I feel I’m getting better, and we’re gonna keep it going now.
“It’s just consistency – being consistent in my training, my belief in myself; that’s basically it,” Mullarkey answered when tasked with pinpointing what has contributed to his solid run of results. “Every single fight you’re in a new mind frame, but you have to believe in yourself and make yourself in the same mind frame that won you the last one. That’s really been it — put myself in those shoes, put myself in the driver’s seat, and really making sure that I go out there and perform.”
While you can always make records and results present whatever case you’re trying for an individual athlete, their efforts inside the Octagon — regardless of outcome — will almost always tell you who that person is and what you can expect from them each time they make the walk.
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Through seven fights, fans have come to know that when Mullarkey’s name is on the fight card, they’re going to be treated to at least one entertaining scrap, as he’s logged a pair of Fight of the Night bonuses and a Performance of the Night bonus for his stoppage win over Devonte Smith, along with registering a first-round knockout of Khama Worthy and engaging in a solid tussle with Prado earlier this year at UFC 284.
Some fighters don’t care about how they’re viewed by fans, but for Mullarkey, building a reputation as a must-see talent motivates him to go out there and deliver on those expectations.
“It makes me want to go out there and keep doing the same thing I’m doing, because I know people want to watch me fight,” he said regarding his burgeoning reputation as a can’t-miss competitor.
And he’s confident that he’s going to give the fans something exciting on Saturday evening in Las Vegas.
“I’ve watched some of his fights — he’s good, he’s a strong little guy, but, to be honest, man, we just adapt as it goes,” Mullarkey said when asked about Naimov, a natural featherweight who lost to Collin Anglin on Season 4 of Dana White’s Contender Series, but enters on a three-fight winning streak, brandishing an 8-2 record overall.
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“I’ve watched some of the footage,” he added, clearly picking his words carefully, trying to be tactful and respectful of the man he’ll share the Octagon with this weekend. “He’s good. It should be a good scrap; that’s all I’ve got to say.”
But pressed for thoughts on how the fight will play out, Mullarkey made it clear that he envisions his second fight of 2023 being one-way traffic.
“I think it’s going to be a dominant performance, to be honest,” he offered. “Everywhere that the fight goes, I’ll be a little bit quicker, a little better, a little bit stronger, and I’ll be imposing my will.
“That is the whole mindset this fight and that is what I’m going to do.”