It was a memorable year for Nevis’ Collin Huckbody.
In August, Huckbody defeated Kyron Bowen at the Dana White Contender Series at Las Vegas’ Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Apex and earned a contract with the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in the world following the win.
Huckbody decided to delay his UFC debut and opted to focus on training to become a better MMA fighter. That decision paid off when Huckbody defeated Aaron Phillips at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Pennsylvania in December to become the Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) Middleweight World Champion.
“It was most definitely a difficult decision (delaying his UFC debut), but there’s a silver lining in it, and I think it will be the best decision for me at the end of the day when I look back and see supposed downfalls,” Huckbody said in an article by CFFC.tv before his fight against Phillips. “When I get to the UFC spot, I want to be ready for every single person they put in front of me, and I just need a little more time to develop my skills.”
It didn’t take long for Huckbody to make a lasting impression on UFC President Dana White.
Huckbody defeated Bowen with an arm-triangle choke submission at the 1:28 mark in the first round of the Dana White Contender Series on Aug. 25. That bout was one of the five fights during Week 4 of Season 4 of the Contender Series, which was televised on ESPN+.
After the win in this middleweight bout, White awarded Huckbody (a 2013 Nevis High School graduate) with a UFC contract. Under White's leadership, the UFC has grown into a globally popular multibillion-dollar enterprise.
Bowen opened the fight by landing a pair of low kicks and a combination before Huckbody shot in for a takedown. Huckbody claimed the top position and used a mounted guillotine to set up the submission in this fight that was scheduled for three five-minute rounds.
His fifth win in a row gave Huckbody an 8-2 professional record, with six of those victories by submission. Bowen, the MMAX FC welterweight champion and the No. 1-ranked MMA fighter in Arkansas, saw his seven-fight win streak snapped in falling to 9-5. Huckbody entered this fight ranked No. 1 in Minnesota and as the North Star Combat middleweight champion.
“The kid came out and looked great. Beautiful submission, fast,” said White before awarding Huckbody his contract. “(I) couldn’t be more impressed.”
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s been a long time working for this moment and it’s finally here,” said Huckbody after the win in the UFC Octagon. “I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.”
After going 5-1-1 with four submission wins in seven amateur fights, Huckbody made his pro debut by defeating Travis McCullough with a rear-naked choke hold at the 1:55 mark in the first round in March of 2017. Huckbody followed with another win via submission, needing only 1:12 to defeat Tom Krenzel with an arm-triangle choke in June of 2017.
After losing to J.P. Saint Louis by submission in 1:16 in Sept. of 2017, Huckbody used an arm-triangle choke to defeat James Roland Waller in 1:39 in February of 2018. Huckbody then lost by a unanimous decision to Bevon Lewis in April of 2018.
Four consecutive wins gave Huckbody a spot in the Dana White Contender Series.
Huckbody started his win streak by defeating Krenzel with a unanimous decision in September of 2018 and followed with another unanimous decision over Charlie Brown in January of 2019.
Two submission wins followed as the 185-pounder used an arm-triangle choke hold to defeat Nick Wagner at the 1:11 mark in the second round in March of 2019 and an arm-triangle choke to defeat Clarence Johnson at the 1:16 mark in the third round in September of 2019.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Huckbody who has a 76-inch reach continued his win streak to capture the vacated CFFC middleweight title, which was the main fight in CFFC 90 on Dec. 17.
Following is a recap of the fight by the CFFC:
“Huckbody scored a takedown in the second minute of action. Phillips worked up to his feet, although Huckbody remained on him with a body lock. Both fighters were landing leg kicks and punches that were doing damage in the first round.
The first half of the second round saw the fighters compete in a slow-paced striking battle. Huckbody had the sharper strikes, often putting together punches. Phillips put Huckbody against the cage in a clinch for a moment in the third minute of the round. Phillips looked tired in the second round, putting his hands on his knees at one moment. Huckbody landed a head kick that dropped Phillips late in the round. Huckbody then landed a few punches before the referee stopped the fight.”
The loss dropped Phillips’ record to 5-2 as Huckbody improved to 9-2.
“It does give me confidence seeing how the UFC runs everything, and now, for me, it’s just about showing up and taking care of business and not really worrying about the bright lights. They’ve really been working with me, helping me believe in myself – in my standup, as well as my ground,” said Huckbody, who relocated to the MMA Lab in Arizona to train for this fight. “Now that I have a team around me that believes in me and puts a lot of effort into my progression as a martial artist, I feel like I’m training how a UFC fighter should train.”