LAS VEGAS – Themba Gorimbo plans to do what few have done in UFC history – go from unranked to champion in one calendar year.
The UFC welterweight envisions himself fighting for and winning the UFC belt this 2024 despite only having three fights in the promotion and not yet being seen as a title contender in the division.
It may be a tough buy for some, but Gorimbo (12-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC), who picked up a first-round KO win at UFC Fight Night 235 this past Saturday, is convinced that he’ll have a quick and unconventional path to the title.
“It’s going to happen,” Gorimbo told reporters at the UFC Fight Night 235 post-fight press conference. “What’s going to happen is that it’s going to be something like a short-notice fight with a top-10 (opponent). I’ll beat him, and then I’ll make my case. It’s not going to be a clear pathway (where) I have to fight through the rankings. I don’t have to do that. When I look at it, I have a big platform. Secondly, I have the skill and I’m a bad fight for anyone in the top 10. They might not think of it, but I am.”
Gorimbo is 2-0 since losing by submission in his UFC debut. He defeated Takashi Sato by decision last May, and knocked out Rodriguez this Saturday.
The 33-year-old made a big splash outside the octagon with his viral reaction video to movie star and WWE wrestler Dwayne Johnson gifting him a house to live in after sleeping at his gym and only having a few dollars to his name.
Gorimbo has a feeling things will work out in his favor and he’ll be fighting for the belt unexpectedly. He thinks he’ll either beat champion Leon Edwards or unbeaten title contender Shavkat Rakhmonov.
“It’s not going to be the case where I have to go top 15, top 10, top five,” Gorimbo said. “For me, I don’t wish anyone to get injured, but someone is going to get out of the fight. The UFC is going to send them a name, and the name is Themba Gorimbo, and they’ll have no choice but to accept it. And then I go in there and do my job, win, and it will be Leon or Rakhmonov. I believe those are the two guys at the top when I get there.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 235.