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LAS VEGAS – Gregor Gillespie isn’t sweating the fact that he’s no longer undefeated.
The UFC lightweight doesn’t think losses hold too much weight in the UFC and MMA in general. Gillespie (13-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC), who makes his return against Brad Riddell this Saturday in the UFC on ESPN 21 co-main event, hasn’t competed since suffering his first defeat in November 2019 when he was knocked out by Kevin Lee.
It was a tough pill to swallow, like any defeat, but the 33-year-old Gillespie made sure to move on quickly and said the way he lost made it easier to process.
“It’s been behind me, the few weeks following the loss it was behind me,” Gillespie told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday at UFC on ESPN 21 media day. “I want to say this, too: The way I lost was easier to accept for me. It was easier to accept for me than getting beat up for three rounds or get taken down and getting held down.
“If I had been dragged through the mud and then lost a bad decision, that would’ve hurt me way more. I got hit with a really nice punch followed by a really clean kick. Props to Kevin Lee on that. That was a beautiful combo. I don’t know if you can do it better than that. It wasn’t lucky. It wasn’t ‘I got caught.’ It was perfectly executed and credit to him on that.”
Prior to the fight with Lee, Gillespie was considered by many as the dark horse of the lightweight division and a potential threat to the title. He had six consecutive wins in the UFC, with five of those coming by stoppage.
Gillespie thinks the loss to Lee altered his trajectory in the division but not by much.
“The great thing about the UFC and the fight game in general, but really the UFC, the zero at the end of your record, it isn’t all they care about – and they actually said that to me,” Gillespie said. “A few of the guys higher up said, ‘Don’t worry about that, just keep performing,’ and I think that the thing about fighting in the UFC and MMA in general is that you can erase all that bad stuff with a good performance on Saturday night.
“They only care about the last one, and that’s the proof right here, is that I had 13 wins in a row with 5 finishes in the UFC and I lost one, and that’s all people remember. I get it: That’s part of the culture.”
On Saturday night against Riddell, the four-time NCAA Division I All-American plans to remind every one why just a few years ago he was regarded as a possible threat to even Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“Winning is the only thig that matters,” Gillespie said. “And to parlay that, wining and looking good doing it, not being a boring fight or looking cautious, not being a fight where I wish I’d done more. I don’t want to underperform. I want to go out there and let loose. I want to go out there and show people I’m the grappler of this division. Winning is the biggest, most important thing, but I want to do it the right way with some conviction.”