Flash back to August of last year.
Joe Soto was preparing to make his long-awaited UFC debut against Anthony Birchak at UFC 177.
Then, just hours before stepping on the scale for weigh-ins, Soto was asked to make the move from the prelims to the pay-per-view main event, taking on bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw for the title.
It all happened so fast for Soto, a former Bellator and Tachi Palace Fights champion, that he’s still trying to come to grasp with everything as he prepares to make his second venture inside the Octagon soon.
Soto (15-3) lost to Dillashaw via fifth round knockout, but proved to many that he is a legitimate contender in the 135-pound division by taking the champion deep into the fight on extremely short notice.
“I’ve watched the fight a few times,” said Soto, during a recent interview with FightLine.com. “I have mixed feelings about it, but considering the circumstances, I thought I did good.
“I’m still just disappointed that I didn’t win and that I got caught with that kick in the last round. But that’s MMA and (expletive) happens. T.J.’s a great fighter.
“There were definitely a few things I could have done different that I think would have changed the fight result. The good thing is that I will learn from that loss and come back a better and smarter fighter.”
The former two-time All-American at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Soto won six in a row to earn his ticket to the UFC. He stopped five of those opponents, including four via submission. Among those victims were Terrion Ware, Jeremiah Labiano, Cory Vom Baur, Chad George and Chris David, along with a decision victory over Romeo McCovey.