UFC on FOX 8: Veteran Aaron Riley Says Lengthy Layoff Was a “Good Experience”, Heading Into Fight With Justin Salas
By Kelsey Mowatt
When veteran Aaron Riley steps into the Octagon Saturday to throw down with Justin Salas at UFC on FOX 8, he’ll be fighting for the first time since September, 2011. For a man who already has competed in over 40 professional fights, going nearly two years without fighting is a rather considerable break.
“I’ve had some injuries that have slowed me down a little bit,” Riley noted on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, who hasn’t fought since UFC 135, when he broke his jaw while fighting former TUF winner Tony Ferguson. “My last time in the Octagon I had a fractured jaw…I’ve had some injuries here and there, but everything’s going well now. I’m having a good camp and I’m excited and ready to go for this next one.”
Considering the 32 year-old Riley has been fighting professionally since 1997, it’s not surprising to hear that the rugged vet believes some good came out of the lengthy layoff.
“No, no, it’s definitely been positive; I definitely increased my skill set, I’ve worked on some other things,” said Riley. “I’ve had a lot of time to have everything coalesce that I was working on before, so it’s actually been a good experience.”
Due to growth of the sport, and the fact there are talented fighters entering the UFC these days with less than ten pro bouts, it will be interesting to see how common 40 fight plus records are in the future. Interestingly enough, UFC on FOX 8 will feature another MMA ‘pioneer’ in Yves Edwards, who will take on Daron Cruickshank in his 63rd pro bout.
“I think we might be moving away from that kind of thing where people have that many matches,” said Riley (30-13-1), who prior to facing Ferguson, worked his way to a unanimous decision win over Joe Brammer at UFC 114. “Now the technique level, the athleticism, everything is at a much higher level now than it was in the late 90’s, early 2000’s.”
“So, I just think there’s too much wear and tear on your body to be getting in that many matches. I think we’re going to see a lot less guys with 40 fights in the UFC, getting into the UFC. There may be the odd one here and there, but as a trend, it’s probably going to start falling away and there won’t be as much of that for sure.”
In Salas, Riley will take on a fighter who is somewhat indicative of MMA’s new age. The 29 year-old lightweight is a former collegiate wrestler, who transitioned into fighting in 2006, and signed with the UFC having fought 12 times.
“I feel like it’s a good match-up,” Riley noted about Salas. “I have a little bit of familiarity with him. I think it’s a good match and we’re preparing for it, and I know he’s trying to get ready for me…I know we’re going to go out there and make it a good show.”
Salas made his UFC debut in February, 2012, and after scoring a decision win over Anton Kuivanen, he was quickly stopped by Tim Means last June.
“You can learn a little, but it’s not like I can base my whole fight strategy off of that one fight,” Riley said, when asked if can draw much from the lightweight’s last performance. “Tim Means has a different body type than me, so I’m going to have to play a little different game, do some different things, but every little bit helps.”
UFC on FOX 8 will be hosted by Seattle’s Key Arena and will feature flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson taking on John Moraga in the main event.