Aaron Jeffery has proven before that he is a UFC-level fighter, but those performances have arguably been in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
Jeffery’s last two wins are over notable names. In October 2020, he beat Andre Petroski, a fighter that has gone on to compete in “The Ultimate Fighter” and later join the UFC roster. Last year, Jeffery beat Collin Huckbody, a prospect that notoriously turned down a UFC contract in 2020.
But when Jeffery has been the absolute closest to a spot in the major promotion, he has come up short. In September 2021, Jeffery made his second appearance on the UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series,” vying for a contract through a standout performance. He lost his fight on that show to Caio Borralho, who is now on the UFC roster.
“It sucks, like losing [a] fight sucks no matter what, whether it’s your first fight or your 10th Fight or whatever,” said Jeffery in an interview with Knockdown News. “And to get to that point twice, like, have that big opportunity and kind of f** it up both times, it sucks. But, I mean, it’s part of the sport, and I’m sure I’ll lose again in my career.”
There’s a justifiable level of frustration that comes from the position that Jeffery is in. He has floated around prospect status for a few years but has yet to move to that upper echelon of professional MMA. He says he’s constantly reminded about how long he has been at this level, as apps like Instagram will give him memories from two years ago where “there’s like articles about me that are saying like ‘fighters that are on the brink,’ like ‘one more win until they’re in the big shows.'”
But Jeffery isn’t letting himself get caught up in the details of his situation. Instead, he’s focused solely on competing and improving more. “I just gotta keep moving forward,” he said.
Jeffery will get that chance to get things back on track this week. While he is coming off a loss from his “Contender Series” fight, he remains the middleweight champion in New Jersey-based promotion CFFC. He’ll return to their cage on Saturday night, facing Rex Harris in a title bout.
Jeffery likes the matchup for many reasons.
“He’s fought a lot of tough guys. He’s been in some big promotions like World Series of Fighting, PFL. So it’s a big name guy, but I think I match up well against him.”
The determined attitude from Jeffery to just move on and get past his issues feels very much like the attitude he describes inside the gym he represents.
Niagara Top Team has been producing strong prospects in recent years. This includes lightweight Anthony Romero, and flyweight Jasmine Jasudavicius, who made her UFC debut just last week.
Jeffery attributes the gym’s “buckle down [and] grind” mentality to what has helped the team have such a breakout in recent years.
“We’re just a room full of hard workers,” he said.
When predicting how the market may look for him going forward, he isn’t sure if UFC will remain interested in him after two losses on their “Contender Series” program. When asked if he would go back on that show for a third time possibly, he expressed hesitancy.
“The thing with ‘Contender Series’ is that you’re still not making the big bucks but you’re fighting like UFC caliber guys, right? So I mean, If I’m fighting UFC caliber guys, I want to be getting paid UFC money,” Jeffery said.
Jeffery doesn’t know what the future holds. He’s open to many options, including a UFC shot or a run in Bellator. But, of course. none of that can be considered until after he performs this weekend.
Correction: A previous version of the article reflected that Aaron Jeffery was lightweight, not middleweight. This error has been changed.