Although mixed martial arts contests are often viewed in a vacuum, a consistent run of fights is generally considered a positive if a fighter hopes to build traction for themselves within the promotion. In the case of Nate Landwehr, injuries and bad luck have kept "The Train" from building any sort of momentum since joining the roster in January 2020.
As he approaches a matchup with David Onama 10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at "UFC on ESPN 41: Vera vs. Cruz," Landwehr (15-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) cautiously relishes getting to San Diego and participating in the various fight week activities. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Landwehr was booked for nine different matchups with only four coming to fruition for one reason or another, which means nine training camps for, hopefully, five UFC contests come August 13.
"I'm just excited to make it to fight week," Landwehr said. "I've been to fight week before with Movsar (Evloev), and he fell off the day of with COVID, so it's been crazy."
Calling back to his scheduled bout with the undefeated Evloev back in December 2020, Landwehr might have some hesitancy about getting too excited before he makes the walk. That said, when he gets there, he can't wait to soak it all in before he fights.
Landwehr hasn't fought in front of a proper arena crowd since his debut against Herbert Burns, and that fight was the first on the card. A natural showman and entertainer who would rather lose an all-action war than win a snoozer, Landwehr actually downplays his excitement about the environment. Instead, he's just eager to put all his hard work to use and get into a fist fight.
"Fans, no fans, in a ring, in a phone booth, in the backyard, we're scheduled to fight," he said. "We said we're going to fight each other, and that's what's going to happen."
Despite his general bad luck regarding fights coming to fruition, Landwehr turned in his best performance in a crucial fight against Ludovit Klein in October 2021. In the third round, Landwehr locked in an anaconda choke and picked up the first submission victory of his professional career and first UFC finish overall.
Normally more of a knockout artist (eight of his 15 wins came via knockout), Landwehr said he didn't feel that adrenaline rush he expects to feel when he ends a fight early, but in his own words: "The name of the game is win and move on."
Part of what contributed to his unexpected finish is the move he made to MMA Masters in Miami, Florida, ahead of that contest. Landwehr continued training there ahead of this fight against Onama, and it's a change from which the always-confident Tennessee-native gains assuredness.
"I think it was a good fit," Landwehr said. "I think the best part of being down there is I'm alone. I miss everything I've been sacrificing to win these fights for, and the sacrifice is what you're going out to fight for."
Of course, Landwehr isn't turning into a submission ace any time soon. It's not in his nature, and he's anticipating a firefight against Onama, who is coming off back-to-back finishes himself.
Although Landwehr says he takes everyone seriously, he also expects Onama to "be there when I swing," and so that knockout shot should come with that connection. Regardless if Landwehr is as clairvoyant as he believes, "The Train" is chomping at the bit to fight and fight at the highest level. With the monkey off his back of getting his first UFC finish, Landwehr is going into Pechanga Arena full speed ahead.
"I think I've always known that I'm a bad man. We're going to see that Saturday night. It's been a little bit of a roller coaster, but I'm back on the winning ways, and I'm going to stick to that Saturday night."
This story first published at UFC.com.