Updated: Oct 14
Picture this. You've been fighting on the regional scene for 14 years, but you've never got that call from the big leagues. You have a 3 week old baby who usually keeps you up at night, but this night the baby decides to sleep, so you're able to catch up on some Z's. You get a random phone call from your manager at 1:30 AM. You assume it's a butt dial, hit ignore, and go back to bed. The phone rings again, and it's your manager again. Something must be up, so you answer. And thank god you answered, because it has been a call that you've been waiting for for 14 years.
This is exactly what happened to NEMMA #2 ranked heavyweight Parker Porter (10-5). Fortunately for him he answered the 2nd call from his manager, Tyson Chartier, and was offered a fight on the UFC 252 card on 9 days notice. It was a call that Porter had been working towards since he made his professional MMA debut back in 2007.
As mentioned, Porter broke into the professional MMA ranks back in 2007 while fighting under the Combat Zone banner. In his 3rd fight he took on a 4-0 Jon Jones (current UFC light heavyweight champ) and lost by TKO in the 1st round. Porter then went 4-1 over the next 3 years before dropping back to back fights to former UFC heavyweight, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Josh Diekman. Porter has never been one to back down from anyone, and with the heavyweight division being so thin in the UFC, Porter has a serious chance to make some waves and earn life-changing money in the process.
Prior to the pandemic hitting, Porter had some big plans that focused on the regional level, but things have changed drastically with that one phone call. "This opportunity came completely out of left field. I was fighting for CES, and we had a fight scheduled for May before the pandemic hit, and they were trying to make that a title fight since Rebello had retired after his last title fight, and they had a vacant slot. So my mindset was; get this title and defend it once, and then possibly get a shot on the Contender Series or get called up to Bellator. Then the pandemic hit and it completely took all of the wind out of my sails. I was like, 'shit, what do I do now'. I'm 35 years old, and most guys beyond 35 don't get a call from the major organizations if they haven't already." Porter was at a crossroads in his career. Does he keep grinding to possibly get that opportunity to fight for a major promotion, or does he refocus his attention on other parts of his life beyond MMA?
Luckily for Porter he didn't have to mull over that decision any longer after getting the call from his manager in the wee hours of the morning. "Tyson calls me at 1:30 in the morning. Keep in mind, I have a 3 week old baby at the time, and for some reason that was the night that my son decided to sleep through the night without making a peep, and we could have gotten really good sleep. So Tyson calls me at 1:30 in the morning and the first thing I do is hit ignore, thinking, it's got to be a butt dial. My finger barley got off the phone before it started ringing again, so I knew something was up at that point." The following words from Tyson Chartier will forever change Porter's life. Those word were, "I got you a fight on UFC 252. Do you want it?" Porter's initial thoughts were, "Am I awake? Am I dreaming? Is this real life?" But once he had the opportunity to let it all sink in, he didn't have to think twice. It didn't matter who the opponent was or how short of notice it was, this was a phone call that he'd been waiting for for 14 years. It was a simple answer; YES! "I didn't even ask who I was fighting. When the UFC calls you up out of the blue you don't even ask. All you say is, where do I sign?"
The NEMMA #2 ranked heavyweight had been grinding on the regional scene for 14 years, fighting for Combat Zone, WCF, Reality Fighting, XFC, Bellator, and CES most recently, and when asked if making it to the UFC was his goal from the get go, here's what Porter had to say. "That's been my goal from day one. It was UFC or nothing. For me it's always been, I want that UFC contract. I want to get to the top level."
Porter will be taking on fellow UFC debutant Chris Daukaus (8-3) on Saturday night. Daukaus is a Philadelphia police officer, and his brother Kyle Daukaus recently made his UFC debut as well. We don't know much about Daukaus, but he seems to be a well-rounded fighter, very similar to Porter. 7 of his 8 wins have come via KO/TKO, but his caliber of competition definitely doesn't stack up to what Porter has seen in the cage. When asked about what he knows about his opponent, Porter said, "He seems pretty well-rounded. I know he's a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. He's won a couple grappling tournaments. Most recently he was preparing for a title bout with CFFC, so I'm expecting him to come in in shape. I haven't seen a whole lot of grappling out of him in his previous fights, and it looks like he comes to bang. I think we both matchup well. We're pretty evenly matched all around. It's going to be an entertaining match no matter where it ends up. It could be a slugfest, or it could be a chess match. It's going to be entertaining one way or another - I can guarantee you that! When I step in that cage I always come to fight. I'm leaving either with my shield or on it!"
Porter is coming in as a slight favorite when it comes to the betting line (-125), but many of the so-called "experts" in the MMA pick 'em world are picking Daukaus to prevail. When asked about his feelings on these experts and their picks Porter was quick to respond, "One of my favorite things to do is to prove people wrong. I just use that as fuel to my fire!"
One thing we know for sure, is that Porter won't be intimidated by a UFC newcomer who hasn't fought nearly the level of competition that he has. Porter can hang his hat on the fact that he's been locked in a cage with Jon Jones, Gabriel Gonzaga, Lee Beane (9-2), Josh Diekman (15-8), and Dirlei Broenstrup (16-8). Porter's been in wars before, and he knows that his experience inside the cage over the past 14 years is probably his biggest advantage over Daukaus. On this topic Porter said, "I feel like my fight IQ is going to be the stronger between us because of the caliber of opponents that I've fought, and the experience that I have over him on the different levels that I've fought."
The Connecticut native had honed his skills at Underdog MMA along Matt Bessette and crew, but has since parted ways with the gym, and is traveling around to get the training that he needs. He's got an immense amount of experience, and he has the right people in his corner with Tyson Chartier and crew, and one thing that really resinated with me when talking with Parker is that he's a humble guy who's earned his stripes and deserves this opportunity. All of us here in New England are thankful that Porter answered that 2nd call from his manager, because we get the opportunity to see what a New England grinder can really do on the big stage come Saturday night. Parker Porter's story can't be told over a 5 minute cup of coffee, but what we do know is that he's been preparing for this moment for 14 years, and all of us get to be the benefactors of his hard word when the bell tolls Saturday night. Porter is a humble guy who's just looking for his opportunity and his response to his manager upon getting that call last week says it all; "Dude, you just changed my life!"