There will be less real estate under the Christmas tree, and the stockings will be a little more stuffed in the Tim Elliott household this year.
Following a win over Jared Papazian (14-9 MMA, 0-3 UFC) this past weekend at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, Elliott (9-3-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) pocketed a $40,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus and a nice boost in the flyweight rankings.
But Elliott said if his opponent had gotten his wish, the fight likely would have never happened in the cage. Instead, it would have gone down in the sauna.
While the fighters were cutting weight prior to the Dec. 15 event, Elliott said Papazian confronted him about their online trash-talking leading into the preliminary-card fight, which streamed on Facebook from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The confrontation soon got heated, and with a cooler head, Elliott said he walked away.
"My coach was trying to get him to calm down and tell him he's a professional and needed to act like one, but I believe he wanted to fight right there," Elliott told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "He said he would have fought right then and there. It could have gotten ugly.
"But he told me after the fight he does that to people he's ready to fight to get in their heads. And it worked. I was flustered going into the fight. So he already had an edge."
The fighters eventually put the beef behind them, though Elliott said he was surprised Papazian was able to get under his skin in the first place. Usually mild-mannered and laid-back, he admits he was "ruffled" heading into the fight.
But once there, things quickly turned bad. Papazian caught Elliott with an illegal but accidental knee to the head. Despite appearing to be on wobbly legs, Elliott signaled he was OK to continue. He went on to regain his composure, slice and diced Papazian with elbows, knocked him down in the second round with a body shot, and then finished the fight with a barrage of ground and pound.
Papazian, though, was still heated, and the ref had to separate the fighters immediately after the bout. But it was a clear-cut win for Elliott, who took the decision via 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26 scores.
Now, Elliott's focus has shifted to future opponents. In his UFC debut earlier this year, Elliott suffered a decision loss to John Dodson, who gets the first crack at champion Demetrious Johnson's title next month. But it's Elliott's only loss in his past 10 fights, and he wants his own shot at the belt.
He believes fellow flyweight contender Louis Gaudinot could get him there. And there's a prick of bad blood there already. When Elliott made his promotional debut at UFC on FOX 3 in May, he and Dodson were early favorites for "Fight of the Night" honors. But Gaudinot ended up beating him out after he submitted John Lineker and earned a $65,000 check.
"I think that'd be a good fight for me, and I believe that would be another opportunity for me to get a bonus check," Elliott said of Gaudinot. "I'd like to fight him, but the matchmakers do such a good job.
"I'll fight whoever they tell me to fight, and it's going to be exciting no matter what."