“Best feeling in the world. Fighting in the Garden. I call it the Boston Garden. That’s always where I wanted to fight. It was great. It was one of the experiences that I can’t really explain it. It was just so good. It was like having your first child. I really appreciate the UFC giving me a second chance. I had a lot of critics around me. Even though I was going to be smaller and I wasn’t the favorite to win, I showed you can’t count me out. I’m here to win. If you give me a chance, I’ll win. I’m really proud of what I did and what happened, and it was a dream come true.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) “I thought it would be more of a banger’s war, but Uriah’s a smart fighter and he kept it real technical. I didn’t expect a takedown real early. I did expect him to try and take me down after we stood for some. I thought he would be more aggressive and come out swinging and looking for the knockout. I think my skills of being a high-level striker made him back off. There was just an exchange here and there, but it didn’t go off. Once he found out, he didn’t want to exchange and it was a fight to outpoint basically. I was surprised he didn’t push the action more than he did. I thought my experience would lead to the outcome of the fight and I was right. I’m satisfied with the victory.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) “Middleweights in the UFC are huge. I feel I have the same power as a middleweight with the speed and aggression as a welterweight. I think I could be a contender, but not a champion at middleweight. I think I can be a champion at welterweight.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) “Siyar is a banger. He comes to bang. He doesn’t care who you are. He has a good chin. I’m very excited. I bang too, so I’m very excited for this fight. He has pretty good takedowns, but he has a mean right hand. He has mean hooks, and I have mean hooks too. It’s going to be who gets off first, who lands first. I think I’m going to land first, but you never know what’s going to happen. I’m going out there to bang and exchange.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Peterson-MMAWeekly) “Two pure strikers going in there and banging. Siyar and me are like K-1 kickboxers who do MMA. You’re going to see two K-1 guys who are looking to bang in an MMA setting. We are going to go out there and put on a show and blow it out for the fans.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) UFC welterweight John Howard seemed destined to fade into obscurity after his original run in the Octagon ended with a three-fight skid. However, the phrase “Boston Strong” rings true when it comes to the Dorchester native, and Howard earned a second shot after putting together a 5-1 run outside of the organization and stepping up on short notice to face Uriah Hall in August. The 30-year old slugger held his own against Hall, earning a surprising Split Decision win, and will look to add another instance of success at when he squares off against UFC 168 Siyar Bahadurzada. Howard recently reflected on his return to the sport’s biggest stage in an interview with UFC.com, expressing excitement over the opportunity in front of him as well based on facing a guy who likes to bang.