• Olney native James Vick lands a punch during a fight against Glaico Franco at UFC 197 in Las Vegas. Vick returns to the Octagon Saturday for his first UFC fight in the Lone Star State.

Olney’s “Texecutioner” returns to the Octagon

Olney citizens will get a chance to see one of their own fight on one of the world’s largest stages as Olney native James Vick makes his Ultimate Fighting Championship return Saturday.

Vick’s record often commands a Pay-Per-View telecast, but Olney mixed martial arts fans can watch him for free Saturday night on Fox Sports 1 as he steps into the octagon as an undercard match for UFC Fight Night Dennis Bermudez vs. Chan “Korean Zombie” Sung Jung.

Vick makes his return following a first-round, technical knockout loss to Beneil Dariush (14-2), which halted his tear through the UFC ranks after going undefeated in his first five appearances.

“I just got caught. [Dariush] did not get lucky, I just got caught with a perfectly timed shot,” Vick said. “The initial knockdown was not too bad. It was the ground-and-pound that messed me up. I was never able to recover. The last time I lost, I came back and won five fights in a row in the UFC. I’ve lost fights before. This is my first MMA loss, but I’ve lost boxing matches, an amateur MMA fight and a fight on "The Ultimate Fighter". This is not something I’ve never dealt with before.”

The card for Friday’s fights has been tumultuous with numerous martial artists suffering injuries in training camp. Vick was originally set to face 22-5 veteran Johnny Case, but Case pulled out due to injury. Case’s departure serendipitously lined up a bout with 15-6 Abel Trujillo, an All-American college wrestler out of William Penn University, who was also looking for a fight after Evan Dunham also pulled out due to injury. Vick, who had no previous martial arts experience before taking up boxing following his senior year at Olney High School in 2005, said wrestlers make for an interesting challenge, but nothing he has not seen before.

“[Wrestling] is still hard. I am fighting guys that have been training for 10 or 15 years longer than me,” Vick said. “When you have wrestled your whole life, that is training, regardless of what anybody wants to say ... I did not have that luxury, but I have other attributes that caught me back up. My work ethic is the main one. I outwork these guys and that makes up for lost time. Also, I am a 6-foot-3 lightweight and that helps big time.”

Despite having a 5-inch reach advantage and a 7-inch height advantage, Vick said his biggest advantage heading into Friday are his boxing skills, which will come in handy with Trujillo looking to replicate Deriush and score an early knockout.

 “He’s a good college wrestler. He’s fought some really good guys,” Vick said. “He’s a short guy, well short compared to me. He’s really explosive, but he has gas tank issues. He gasses out a lot. There might be an early swarm I have to weather or be smart and not get caught early, but after that I can take it over. I can also catch him early in the first round if he comes in wild and swinging, I can clip him on the chin or catch his neck and submit him.”

Friday will be a homecoming for Vick, who will fight in home state for the first time in his professional career.

“I love it. It gives me the greatest feeling in the world,” Vick said. “I’m just going to soak it all in. I am going to enjoy the moment, remember the walkout, how they introduce me and getting my hand raised when I win. I’m just going to soak it all in and love every bit of it."

The Olney Enterprise

213 E. Main St.
PO Box 577

Olney, Texas 76374

Phone: (940) 564-5558

Fax: (940) 564-3992