When David Onama took his first UFC fight on just four days' notice, he had no idea that he was about to be embarking on a career filled with short-notice opportunities. But he has thrived under the unique circumstances.
"I'm always ready, and I'm always watching my weight," Onama said. "I try to stay ready just in case I get a call from the UFC. I'm always training, I'm always in the gym. I'm ready for every opportunity I can get."
After defeating Garrett Armfield in July, Onama (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) immediately jumped at the opportunity to fight Nate Landwehr (15-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) in San Diego on three weeks' notice. The two were supposed to square off in Ohio in March, but Landwehr was forced to pull out of the bout.
"I like the matchup, it's a great fight for me," Onama said. "We picked the fight because we know we can beat the kid. When I got the call, I already knew about the kid, we studied him already. He's just another victim."
Onama is not just blindly taking fights and jumping at whatever octagon opportunity prevents itself to him, and he remains extremely strategic when it comes to accepting bouts.
"We don't take the fights just to take the fights; we take smart fights," Onama said.
A student under UFC veteran James Krause, Onama credits a strong support system for ensuring that he is always in fighting shape and ready to sign a bout agreement at any time.
"For you to take those short notice fights, James has to make sure you're in the gym, constantly training," Onama said. "If not, then you're not taking those fights. That's why I'm the one always taking those short notice fights because I'm always in the gym."
In 2022, many up and coming MMA prospects find their way to the UFC through Dana White's Contender Series, a structure that gives fighters months to train for their ticket to the big show, but Onama's journey was just the opposite.
He was booked to fight in the Contender Series but had his bout cancelled after visa issues with his opponent. Then, during a vacation in Tuscaloosa, Onama got a call to fight tough lightweight Mason Jones on just four days' notice.
"The Mason Jones fight was a good opportunity for me, and I took it," Onama said. "Instead of going to the Contender Series and fighting for a contract, I was going to get a contract, win or lose. I'm proud I took it because it brought me to where I am now."
Ahead of making his UFC debut, Onama was an undefeated prospect coming out of Krause's Fighting Alliance Championship.
"I had plenty of fights and it was a good experience for me," Onama said. "Each fight they gave me, I got better and better, and I got to the point where I could compete in the UFC."
Onama has done more than just compete in the UFC, as he touts a 2-1 record in the promotion with both wins coming via finishes. He looks to ride the hot streak when he fights Landwehr at UFC San Diego this weekend.
"I'm going to go in there and have fun and give the fans what they want to see," Onama said. "I'm exciting; everybody wants to watch me fight. I'm going to go in there and have fun and get the job done."
This story first published at UFC.com.