Julian Erosa has made it four of five during his third run in the UFC. “Juicy J” outlasted Steven Peterson at UFC Vegas 47 on Saturday to win a split decision that took home Fight of the Night honors.
However, after Peterson missed weight by three pounds for the duo’s featherweight clash, Erosa took home his opponent’s $50,000 bonus in addition to his own. Between the two bonuses, his show money, win money, and a percentage of Peterson’s purse, Erosa took home five checks.
“I feel spectacular. Obviously, it’s the best outcome,” Erosa told MMASucka. “To walk away with five checks is more than I anticipated to even be a possibility, so right now, it’s pretty unbelievable to me.”
Erosa, having put on a Fight of the Year candidate with Peterson, had a feeling he earned Fight of the Night. When his manager, Jason House, called, Erosa had a feeling it was bonus-related. Unbeknownst to Erosa, fighters who miss weight forfeit their right to any bonuses, so Peterson’s $50,000 went to Erosa.
“I saw Peterson in the back and said ‘Hey man, maybe we’ll get Fight of the Night and get 50 grand apiece,’” Erosa said. “He didn’t say nothing to me. Once I figured it out, that’s probably why he didn’t say nothing. Probably because he knew he wasn’t going to be eligible for it regardless.
“It was a pretty surreal feeling when Jason called and told me I got it. Just to get a $50,000 bonus is huge. To get mine and Steven Peterson’s $50,000 bonus, was absolutely unreal to me. I was pretty stoked.”
Erosa, having rewatched the fight, scored it 29-28 in favor of himself. Like many, he thought he won the first round while Peterson won the second. It came down to the last couple of minutes of the fight. Erosa believes the late takedown in the third round and subsequent ground and pound was what swayed the judges in his favor for the third and decisive frame.
“You hear the commentary saying it might be down to these last 30 seconds. I actually could hear those kinds of things while I’m fighting,” Erosa said. “Even though me just laying on him would have probably secured the fight for me, hearing [the commentators] say these last 30 seconds might give the fight either way.”
When Peterson kicked Erosa off of him, Erosa opted to go for a flying or spinning technique instead of jumping back on Peterson. He wanted to put it in the judges’ minds that he was going for the finish.
“He kicked me off of him, and I think I tried a flying knee,” Erosa said. “I think we both tried flying something. The spinning heel kick, I tried, and then a front flip kick. I just wanted [the judges] to know the regardless of the outcome, that I was going for it from bell to bell, and I think that helped out as well.”
At the moment, Erosa believed he had done enough for the win. He recalls taking stock of the facial expressions of people in the cage, including Peterson and his corner.
“They had a little bit of disappointment in their faces and in what they were saying, so I felt like they thought I won the fight as well,” Erosa said. “I felt pretty confident going into the scorecards. Obviously, it was a bit discouraging when they read his name off first in the split decision. That was the only thing that got my heart skipping a beat. Those things happen. There’s only so much you can do. The entire fight, I was trying to finish him. There was nothing else I could’ve done to try to get him out there, so I was just going to have to trust the judges got it right, and I feel like that’s what they did.”
When rewatching the fight, Erosa said it was closer than he remembers it being while in the fight.
“Obviously, being inside the fight is different from being outside the fight watching it. In the fight, I was really surprised when they said it was a split decision. It was a bit weird. But watching the fight again, I could see that it was a really close fight.”
Erosa said the first round was where he wanted to be technique-wise. He felt he was quicker than Peterson, as well as had the cleaner technique and higher pressure. He believed he would inevitably put away Peterson soon the way the first round was trending, but Peterson got Erosa to engage in a brawl in the second round.
“Maybe if I would’ve pulled the reins in a bit more in the second round instead of engaging in the brawl with him, I think it would’ve been a better way of going about it for me; to be a bit cleaner in the fight,” Erosa said. “But if I didn’t do what I did, I might not be sitting here $100,000 richer. In some cases, I’m happy that’s how I am; that I’m willing to throw everything out the window and see who’s got more in the balls and more in the heart.”
Erosa was adamant that lessons can be gleaned from every fight and plans to watch the Peterson fight back again to pick up on some of the intricate details he can learn from.
Erosa, who is prospering in his third UFC stint on a 4-1 run with the promotion, said he believes he has been putting himself in a better spot mentally. “Juicy J” is now 5-5 over his three stints after starting 1-4 with the organization. He first touched down in the UFC after Season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter. He won his UFC debut against Marcin Wrzosek but was then finished by Teruto Ishihara and released.
Erosa went on a 7-2 tear outside of the UFC, including a shot on the Dana White Contender Series, where he finished Jamall Emmers and punched his return ticket. An 0-3 run against tough opposition saw him released again. But after a win over A.J. Bryant at CageSport 60, Erosa took a fight against featherweight prospect Sean Woodson on just days’ notice. Erosa earned a come-from-behind submission win over Woodson via D’Arce choke.
During the current run, Erosa has also finished Nate Landwehr and Charles Jourdain. His lone loss during this stretch was a knockout to Seung Woo Choi.
Erosa decided to make a change to the way he approached sparring after the Choi fight.
“[Before], I would go to Xtreme Couture and spar for five or six rounds against five or six separate guys. My coaches would be watching five or six separate guys getting ready for fights. They might get one round of mine or two rounds of mine they could watch and give me some feedback on. Even if they’re giving me feedback on a round, the next round I’m doing is not with the same guy, so that feedback doesn’t mean nothing to me. Right after the Choi fight when I got knocked out by Choi, I had switched up my sparring.
“I’d get to the gym earlier than everybody else, and I’d have the cage to myself,” Erosa continued. “It’d just be me, my coaches and one other guy. I’d spar the same guy for three rounds. That way I could adjust and really listen to my coaches between rounds and figure out what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong and really do the specific training that is going to lead me towards my fight.”
Erosa does not have an opponent in mind for his next fight, though he hopes to return to the Octagon by May or June. He is interested in fighting Alex Caceres, though Erosa acknowledged Caceres is booked to fight Sodiq Yusuff on March 12.
“I always thought Alex Caceres would be a fun fight, because he’s got a really good style that would make up with mine and make for an exciting fight,” Erosa said. “That’s really what I’m really looking for: exciting fights. Honestly, besides him, I really haven’t thought of anybody or calling anybody out.”
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