Fight night can’t come soon enough for Zack Powell and Yemi Oduwole.
Canada’s Powell (3-0) will look to keep his undefeated record intact when he meets the United States’ Oduwole (5-2) in a 160-pound catchweight bout in the main event of SHP 56 on Saturday night in Northport, Ala.
With a victory over Oduwole, Powell, 23, said he has sights set on a quick turnaround, which he’s hoping will be an opportunity on Dana White’s Contender Series next month.
“They invited back Sherrard Blackledge, who’s now 5-0, to Contender Series in November, so I just want to go out there, win this fight, and call out Sherrard. It’s not out of disrespect, it’s just he has something I want,” said Powell in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I want a quick turnaround. I’m fighting now in October, I want to fight in November on Contender Series, and then hopefully start 2021 in the UFC.”
For Oduwole, 30, he’s nearly 15 months removed from his last fight, despite trying his best to secure fights in that time.
Oduwole said now having an opponent confirmed and the date set feels amazing, and he’s thankful the time has finally come again.
“I’m extremely happy somebody signed the contract and said okay, we’re going to fight. I’ve been trying to find a fight for almost a year now,” said Oduwole in an interview with MMA Empire.
“He’s (Powell) undefeated at 3-0, and I know that feeling. It’s going to be a good fight, I can promise you that.”
Powell looking to hunt the finish
Powell’s last affair in the cage saw him defeat Adam De Freitas via unanimous decision at Prospect FC 13 back in March.
Although he secured the win, Powell said that fight taught him to focus more on securing the finish instead of trying to control the fight, which he will look to do more of Saturday night.
“I felt Adam break during that fight, and I was content on just controlling rather than finishing,” said Powell.
“After re-watching the fight with my coaches, we agreed we could’ve gotten the finish in round two or three.”
Just three fights into his professional career, Powell is set to face his toughest opponent to date in Oduwole, who has more than double the amount of professional fights, and holds a win over UFC-veteran Clay Harvison.
But other than the experience edge for Oduwole, Powell said he feels he’s superior in every aspect of the fight once the cage door closes.
“He’s an experienced opponent, he has the will to fight, and he’s a game guy. When it comes to skills, I’m not so worried. I know I’m the more athletic guy, I have the better gas tank, better striking, better jiu-jitsu, and better wrestling,” said Powell.
“So, when it comes to all that, I’m not too worried. But it’s a fight and anything can happen, so I’m just going out there expecting anything, and doing my best to lay my dominance and will on him.”
Since helping fellow Canadian prospect Anthony Romero train for his Contender Series fight, Powell has made the move to join the ever-growing team at Niagara Top Team in Ontario, where he’s been training for the past three months.
Powell said he’s liked everything he’s seen in his time there so far, and has already seen noticeable improvements in his game.
“The grind is just different. I feel like this is actually where I belong, and I feel like a completely different fighter coming into this fight,” said Powell.
“I feel like I’ve grown in so many places and just gotten better everywhere, and understand the game better. It’s very helpful being around good guys like that, and solid coaches with lots of experience.”
Oduwole maintains short memory of last fight
In his last fight, Oduwole saw his five-fight winning streak come to a halt at the hands of Chris Brown at LFA 71.
Oduwole, however, didn’t dwell on the defeat for long, and kept reminding himself of the run he went on following his only other loss, which was his professional debut.
“If you look at my pro debut, I lost a split decision. But if you look at my record after that, I won five fights in a row and fought a UFC veteran,” said Oduwole.
“A loss is a lesson, and I didn’t think about it for too long. I was back in the gym the next day.”
Prior to his current 15-month absence from the cage, Oduwole rattled off five fights in just over one year.
He said this layoff wasn’t caused by him being injured or not wanting to fight, but because no one wanted to step to the plate.
“This (layoff) has definitely not been my fault. Ever since my last fight, I’ve been asking for a fight, but nobody wants to step up,” said Oduwole.
“The only guys they wanted me to fight had way more fights than me, and I didn’t think that was smart. Fighters in my range, within my experience, they never want to fight. I’ve taken zero days off from training.”
Confirmed by taking on a UFC veteran in just his sixth professional fight, Oduwole said he’s not one to accept easy fights.
He said his willingness to take on tough challenges and find success has led to his confidence continuing to grow with each fight.
“I try to go for the biggest challenge because, that way, win or lose, I have the experience,” said Oduwole.
“I’ve been offered to fight 0-3 and 0-2 guys, but I don’t want that. I want to fight somebody that gives me that challenge. In the long run, if the UFC is looking at you, they look at the people you’ve fought before. The experience just adds to my confidence.”
“I’d like to thank all my sponsors: Virus Intl., JockPharm, MLO Shoes, Buckingham Hyundai, Cynical Sons, Physio Outaouais, and Thorne Supplements.” Follow Powell on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM