Jeez, Rob Font. You’ve always been someone willing to take on the toughest challenges available without hesitation. So why, after a year off, did you want a tune-up fight this week in Las Vegas?
A few moments of an awkward silence. Then we both laugh.
The No. 3-ranked Marlon Moraes is no tune-up fight and we both know it, but why not welcome Font back to active duty with a little joke to kick off the interview.
“Wait a minute,” he laughs. “You already know, he (Moraes) is a former champ, he just fought one of the tougher guys in the division in Cory Sandhagen, and he's been there done that. I'm excited and I believe this fight will get me a number one contender slot or a bigger name after this.”
At this point, after being out of action since a Fight of the Night win over Ricky Simon on December 7 of last year, Font would likely fight anybody. But when presented with one of the best bantamweights in the world, the pride of Woburn, Massachusetts didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“He brings it,” Font said of Moraes. “He wants to put on a show, he's always looking for the big finish and I'll bring the same. Once I got the name, it was a no-brainer. There was no second thought, no calling up anybody else to think about it. It was a done deal. I heard him, I was like, ‘Hell yeah.’ The next day we got the contract and just started training specifically for him. This is what I needed. I thought I was gonna get somebody like Chito Vera or Cody Stamann coming back, but I heard this name, and this is even better.”
That’s real fighter stuff, but it’s no new development with the 33-year-old, who always wants to see how far he can take this.
“It's just in me and I've always been that way,” he said. “I gotta find out where I'm at. Throw me into deep waters and let's find out. That's my attitude and I'm confident in myself. I'm confident that if you drop me anywhere, I'm gonna figure it out. It's another big opportunity, I want nothing but big opportunities, and I believe if you take risks like this, you get bigger rewards, so I'm here to take the risk and we're gonna find out on December 19th. It's big. It's a big fight.”
The fact that Font is still ranked 11thin the world after a year off shows how far he’s come since his UFC debut in 2014. Sporting a 7-3 slate in the Octagon that includes back-to-back wins over Sergio Pettis and Simon, Font has had his issues with injuries, but with what he calls a “new” knee, he’s confident that from here on out, he’s going to be making his move on the 135-pound elite.
“It's weird how things work out,” he said. “I'm right back in there, I got a brand-new knee, so, in my mind, I'm a better fighter. I get the opportunity to leapfrog everybody else in front of me as far as the division goes. And with a big finish, you never know, we're right back for a title shot or definitely a big-name fight. We'll see.”
And worst-case scenario, we get to see Font for the annual holiday visit he’s made to the Octagon the last two Decembers. Call him MMA’s Santa Claus.
“Exactly,” he laughs. “I'm here to entertain you during the holidays.”
If Font and his fans have their way, there will be more appearances in 2021 and beyond. And with his New England Cartel teammate Calvin Kattar in a huge fight of his own against Max Holloway in January, what better way to kick off the festivities for his squad than with a big win this weekend.
“We're fortunate and we're blessed to see this play out the way it is,” Font said. “We've got two big fights coming up and this is huge for New England, huge for Boston, and obviously huge for the Cartel. We just gotta go out there and deliver in good form. We know we can win these fights; we just gotta go out there and do what we gotta do, get the job done and come back home and get back to the gym because we gotta bring the belts back.”
Not bad for 2020, eh?
“It's been a crazy year, but I'm back.”