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UFC Vegas 26: Gregor Gillespie explains the emotions after last fight was canceled hours before

Gregor Gillespie poses on the scale during the

Gregor Gillespie poses on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on March 19 in Las Vegas. Credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Fightless Saturday nights Gregor Gillespie handles just fine.

But it’s those two or three Saturday nights each year when he needs to throw hands -- and kicks -- and such sanctioned aggression gets canceled shortly before show time that really sends the Massapequa resident into a "weird bag of emotions."

Such was the case on March 20, when while making his morning coffee and preparing for a workout to get him loosened up for his return to the UFC octagon later that evening, Gillespie received the news that his fight with Brad Riddell was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols involving the New Zealander.

First, there’s disbelief and disappointment.

"Are you kidding me? Not only did it get canceled, but it got canceled, literally, less than 12 hours before I was supposed to make the walk to the cage," Gillespie said. "You're really disappointed, you feel a little bad for everyone that came with you, and everyone that made a sacrifice in their lives to put their life on hold for a week and come out to help you."

Then relief.

"All of a sudden, all the adrenaline, all the nerves, all of the worry and anxiety that come along with going and fighting on a fight day, it's a nerve-wracking day, that's instantly gone," Gillespie said. "So you're instantly tired."

Then guilt.

"The guilt, I would say, it’s like I am kind of relieved that I'm not fighting," Gillespie said. "But on the same token, the absolute high and joy you get from winning that fight, now that opportunity has also been taken away as well. So the reward from feeling that way and pushing through those kinds of feelings is gone as well."

Then, after a week of mountain climbing in the Adirondacks, comes the next training camp for the next fight. Gillespie, the No. 14 ranked lightweight in the UFC, faces No. 12 Diego Ferreira at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday. Gillespie’s fight, his first since November 2019, is part of the main card on ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. and headlined by Michelle Waterson vs. Marina Rodriguez.

Provided the fight takes place as scheduled on Saturday night at the UFC Apex, it will be 554 days since Gillespie (13-1) last fought and lost by first-round knockout to Kevin Lee. Ferreira (17-3), a jiu-jitsu ace, is coming off a split decision loss to Beneil Dariush last February.

Training under Keith Trimble at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA, the 34-year-old Gillespie shows improved striking skills each time he fights. Known first for his wrestling pedigree – a former NCAA national champion and four-time All-American at Ediboro – Gillespie has more wins by knockout (six) than he does submissions (five) or decisions (two).

"We've trained every aspect of it so wherever the fight goes, I'm prepared," Gillespie said. "It is what it is. It’s an MMA fight."

UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas

Main card, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson

Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono

Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal

Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie

Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Angela Hill vs. Amanda Ribas

Prelims, 5 p.m. on ESPN+

Philipe Lins vs. Ben Rothwell

Kyle Daukaus vs. Phil Hawes

Ludovit Klein vs. Mike Trizano

Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ryan Benoit

Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jun Yong Park

Christian Aguilera vs. Carlston Harris

New York Sports