Oban Elliott on meeting Chael Sonnen and CM Punk after first UFC win: ‘I literally am living the dream’



Oban Elliott
Oban Elliott | Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

No man is flying higher than Oban Elliott is right now.

This past Saturday, Elliott made his UFC debut, taking a unanimous decision win over Val Woodburn at UFC 298. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream and a promise made to his late father, and as such, Elliott is on cloud nine at the moment.

“I’m living the dream. I literally am living the dream,” Elliott said on The MMA Hour.

“I might be the happiest man in the world right now. Honestly. If I would have finished him in the first round, amazing — might have gotten 50 grand as well — but I think this is going to pay a lot more than $50,000 in dividends going forward. Three rounds under the lights like that, in a big arena like that, and I became more comfortable as the fight went on. I’m not just coming to the UFC for a little bit of hype, I’m going to the top, in my head. So that’s three rounds of solid experience banked. It couldn’t have gone any better. Getting dropped and overcoming that — I knew I had that in me anyway, but on the big stage, would I have froze? No. I stood strong. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.”

Scoring his first UFC win was only the beginning of Elliott’s night. After doing the required post-fight media and medicals, Elliott was in for a surprise as had the chance to meet CM Punk, who was in attendance. A lifelong wrestling fan, Elliott jumped at the opportunity.

“Get the medical done, go and do the media,” Elliott said. “Go and get the media done, then I’m doing my pictures, and as I’m doing my pictures, Megan Olivi runs up … ‘Oban, do you want to meet CM Punk?’ F****** right I want to meet CM Punk! … We go back down to the thing, I meet CM Punk. … We were just talking, bouncing ideas off each other. I’d love to tell you exactly what we were talking about but it was so surreal. We were just talking about how I watched him before. I was fanboying!

“I asked him about the nerves. ‘As wrestlers, do you get nervous? Because I’ve always wanted to ask one of you guys this, and you being the best in the world.’ And he said, ‘The day I didn’t feel the nerves is the day I quit 10 years ago.’ So I can take that with me the rest of my career now. No matter how much I’m s****** myself in that changing room, the best in the world in his craft will get butterflies. And they day they weren’t there for him, he walked away.”

And Elliott’s night still was not over, because after CM Punk, Elliott got to finally meet his childhood hero, Chael Sonnen.

“I quickly get dressed, boom-boom-boom, get down, back in the car, straight to the thing,” Elliott said. “There’s a team waiting for me, they shuttle me off, put me through the lift, I go up through the backstage, walking along the stage, I’m thinking ‘Where is he?’ ESPN set, there he is! We come, embrace, and he thanks me for giving him a shoutout in the cage. ‘Of course!’ He thanks me for that. He actually talked a technique straight away, ‘You know when you had him in the mounted triangle, you grab his head straight away.’

“Just an unbelievable moment. And then he tells me, ‘This is just the beginning and we’re going to keep this going. Gangsters Inc.’ Hugged him, shook his hand about 50 times, hugged him about 50 times, told him I loved him about 10 times, and every time he said, ‘I love you too!’ The best.”

Elliott has been open about Sonnen’s influence on his career, saying that Sonnen was his biggest idol growing up and part of the reason he became a fan of and pursued MMA. So given that he finally got to meet Sonnen, and CM Punk, and have the full UFC experience, Elliott is still buzzing a few days after UFC 298.

“We’re just talking and he said, ‘It’s not a surprise. I’ve been following you for so long.’ He always kept his distance, was following from afar and would send me the odd message, but didn’t make a friendship of it,” Elliott said. “This is just the maddest thing to absorb. And I’m still thinking about meeting CM Punk while I’m talking to him. And earlier in the week, [Michael] Bisping! Come on! Bisping!

“At the fighter meeting with Bisping and he looks me in the eye and tells me, ‘Your dad would be so proud of you.’ I burst into tears. Coming from him. I’m thinking to myself, what did I do to deserve this? How has this worked out so well?”

Now 10-2 in his professional career and a former Cage Warriors amateur champion, the 26-year-old Elliott is fully on his way in UFC, and for his next act, “The Welsh Gangster” hopes to move to 2-0 in the promotion with a win a little closer to home.

“They’re saying they’ve got a Manchester card in July,” Elliott said. “That would be really good. A home show would be nice, timing wise. I’ve got to let me body heal. I had a few bumps and bruises going into this fight. I’ve got make sure everything is OK before going into another training camp. But definitely in the summer. Not too soon, where I’m rushing. Hopefully the Manchester card in July, if that is true.”

And as for an opponent? Well, Elliott had too big of a weekend to be too concerned about that.

“Honestly, and this is a very important part of an interview, you’ve got to set up the next fight,” Elliott said when asked about an opponent. “But I can’t think of a single person that is even worth thinking about at the minute, after week I’ve had. … I’m afraid I don’t have any name in mind. For now, let’s just enjoy this one.”

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