ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Gracie Barra New Mexico Professor Quinn Mulhern (18-2) will make his Ultimate Fighting Championships debut at UFC 158 on March 16 in Montréal, Québec against Rick “The Horror” Story (14-6). Mulhern, who replaces injured Sean Pierson, takes a three-fight win streak in to the Octagon and has won 10 out of his last 11 fights. While his numbers were impressive, Mulhern was not on the official list of fighters to survive Strikeforce’s collapse, but was sure that the call could come at any moment.
“I had been waiting for that call,” said Mulhern. “When Strikeforce dissolved I had a sense that I would make it to the UFC but nothing was for sure. I had the feeling that I would be filling in for an injured fighter. Thankfully it was six weeks out when they gave me the call.”
Not knowing who or when you’re going to fight is a fighter’s dilemma that haunts the dreams of fighters on the rise. Mulhern stayed patient, stayed hungry and most importantly, stayed in shape.
“The thing that’s nice about this camp is I came in, in really good shape,” said, Mulhern. “Part of the reason was, I never stopped training hard. I’ve been dedicated to the training and I’ve been training really hard at Jackson’s and Gracie Barra. Now I have an opponent and I can focus on that. I’m not celebrating yet. I’ve got to beat this guy and I’ve got to win this fight.”
Mulhern moved to Albuquerque, N.M. from his home just an hour north in Santa Fe, N.M. to train full-time at one of the most renowned gyms in the nation, Jackson’s MMA.
“Since my fight with Jorge Santiago got cancelled last September,” he said. “I was just trying to live my life so it was sustainable without fighting. I stayed focused so I wouldn’t get caught off guard. There was never a guarantee it would happen but it’s been fun exploring a new town. I tried to come here and build friendships and connections to help get myself better.”
The UFC’s welterweight division is arguably one of its toughest divisions with the likes of Champion Georges St. Pierre, Nick Diaz, former World Champion Carlos “the Natural Born Killer” Condit, Johny Hendricks, Rory McDonald and the list goes on. Mulhern’s first test is against Story, who is an 11-fight vet of the UFC going 7-4 in that stretch but has lost three of his last four. Story holds wins over no.1 contender Hendricks, and former no.1 contender Thiago Alves.
“This is a good match up for me,” he said with confidence. “Rick Story is tough and he’s no joke. One of the things with Rick Story is, he tends to be a little one dimensional. He really puts pressure forward in such a way that I think guys are starting to figure out how to counter. If you deny his one big attribute he is beatable.”
To help get him ready for this fight, Mulhern has trained with some of the best grapplers in the world at Gracie Barra New Mexico and is under the tutelage of MMA wizards at Jackson’s.
“There’s so many people supporting me,” he said. “Just being in a bigger city helps. Carlos Condit has helped me out a lot, Buddy Roberts and all the coaches at Jackson’s including Coach (Mike) Winklejohn and Coach Brandon Gibson helping me with mits. Obviously working with Coach Jackson because he is a wizard at this game.
“The Jackson’s camp is big but also the team here at Gracie Barra has helped me a lot as well,” he continued. “Tussa has helped me a lot and so has Don Ortega. Just everyone who is in that big class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, everyone is good to roll with. You’ve got guys like, Diego Sanchez, Diego Brandao, Barata, Gustavo and a bunch of other beasts all training hard. All these people are good to be around because they push me and they make me a lot better.”
Mulhern started at the original Santa Fe Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy that was founded by UFC veteran and BJJ World Champion Alberto Crane. He remembers the beginnings of what is now Gracie Barra New Mexico and how it molded him.
“I have a lot of love and respect for Gracie Barra,” he said proudly. “As well as the original schools that were founded by Master Crane. It goes way back, back before I even started jiu jitsu. I’m thankful for Tom Pless and the guys up in Santa Fe who got me to this point. It’s great to have some many people interested in fighting in this state and so many people supporting me.”