For the past eight years, Luke Zachrich (13-2, 0-0 UFC) has had one goal: to make it to the UFC.
He had that goal through his first eight fights, where he went 7-1 with all seven wins coming via first round stoppage. That impressive streak earned him a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 7, where he made his way into “the house” before a loss to Dan Cramer put him out of the tournament and still short of his dream to make it to the UFC.
Told by matchmakers that he needed just a few stoppage wins to earn another look, he went out and finished three more opponents in less than a year. But the UFC still didn’t call.
Another organization did, however. Bellator Fighting Championships (now Bellator MMA) was putting shows on national TV, and they offered the Ohioan a spot in their Season 2 Middleweight Tournament where he was guaranteed to be just three short wins away from a title shot.
But nagging injuries got in the way, and Zachrich entered the fight battling serious back pain. He was submitted by Eric Schambari in the first round at Bellator 16, and he was left to start over.
Zachrich didn’t fight for two-and-a-half years following that loss, taking that time to heal and focus on opening two gourmet pizza restaurants in Columbus. The former Bowling Green football player also focused more on his ground game in that time, feeling that it had been a weakness in his game.
Never one to give himself a spare moment, Zachrich also decided to open Ronin Training Center in Columbus, finally giving himself a top-notch facility in which to train and call home. Ronin was being built into a powerhouse in Columbus, and it gave Zachrich that much more of a desire to compete inside a cage once again.
Finally he found the perfect opportunity – a headlining spot on the UVC 20 card during the state fair in Columbus, where he faced a hungry opponent in Nick Kraus. Zachrich showed a new-found confidence in his ground game in that fight, eventually earning a unanimous decision victory. He then stepped back into the cage last May, where he showed a well-rounded game in defeating Marcus Finch with another decision win.
After a quick armbar win last summer, Zachrich was once again on a winning streak and on the verge of the UFC. And then finally less than two weeks ago, he got the call to step in at UFC on FOX 11 to face Caio Magalhaes (7-1, 2-1 UFC) on just 11 days’ notice.
The 32-year-old quick accepted, and he’ll make his UFC debut this weekend.
Zachrich joined the most recent episode of The Kyote Ugly Show, where he discussed finally earning a spot in the world’s biggest organization.
The veteran is confident and calm headed into the biggest fight of his career.
“It’s not an ideal situation, I’ll be completely honest with you,” Zachrich said. “This has been something that I’ve been working extremely hard for. I always stay in the gym and in pretty good shape. I’m always in good shape and i was looking at getting another boxing fight, and i always training my jiu-jitsu. Really it’s one of those things i feel confident in going out there for three fives.”
Zachrich continued to say that he was ready for any name they threw at him.
I don’t feel banged up, i’m not injured,” Zachrich said. “So there are some pluses with all of the negatives that go with it. But like I said, I don’t care if they would have called and said, ‘Hey, Anderson Silva’s coming back, and we need somebody to fight him,’ then I would have done it. Because that’s how bad I wanted the UFC.”
Watch Zachrich take on Magalhaes on the preliminary card at UFC on FOX 11, which begins at 5 p.m. ET.