His name is on the marquee. His dream of fighting for an Ultimate Fighting Championship title is within sight.
But Rick Story isn’t paying attention to any of that.
The Vancouver welterweight’s focus is squarely on how to defeat Charlie Brenneman in Sunday’s nationally-televised UFC Live 4 mixed martial arts main event. The broadcast on Versus begins at 6 p.m.
“I’m just focusing on the fight,” Story said this week before departing for Pittsburgh, where he and Brenneman will meet 19,000-seat Consol Energy Center.
Story was originally slated to fight Nate Marquardt, a former UFC title contender at middleweight. However, on Saturday, Marquardt was not medically cleared to fight by the Pennsylvania athletic commission, then Marquardt was released from the UFC.
Now, Story will meet Brenneman, who was training for his own fight at the event before TJ Grant pulled out due to illness.
Story had hoped a win over Marquardt would greatly improve his UFC stock. How this last-minute change in opponent will impact his future remains to be seen.
Story said his approach is to stay relaxed and not get caught up in the stakes, or how the result might impact his future. Those are distractions and largely out of his control, he said.
The opportunity to improve his UFC stock is the reason Story jumped at the chance to fight Marquardt just four weeks after winning an important decision over Thiago Alves in UFC 130 at Las Vegas.
For today’s bout, Story replaced Anthony Johnson, who had to withdraw because of an injury. Now, Marquardt has been replaced.
“As long as I stay calm and composed, I do well,” Story said.
Story, 26, has won six consecutive UFC fights. He is 6-1 in UFC, 13-3 in professional mixed martial arts fights.
Story said he isn’t concerned about the short break between fights. He resumed training only four days after the match with Alves. Story said he prefers shorter breaks between fights, noting that the stamina base is not lost as can happen with longer layoffs.
“It’s good when you don’t get out of shape and have to build that back up,” he said.
Story has not fought two matches this close together since before he signed with UFC. In 2008, he won four matches in four months at events in the greater Portland area.
“Back then, I had to fight for a paycheck to pay the rent,” Story said.
That string of wins helped Story land his contract to fight with UFC. He made his debut in June of 2009 at Calogne, Germany, losing by decision to John Hathaway in UFC 99. He hasn’t lost since, a string of six UFC wins that has him closing in on consideration for the welterweight title shot.