England’s own Phil De Fries was flying high as he was considered one of the UFC’s most promising up-and-coming fighters of the heavyweight roster. Sporting an unbeaten record along with a victory in his Octagon debut, De Fries was destined to soar to the top, one fight at a time. Unfortunately for De Fries, he was given a sample of reality in his very next bout as he found himself on the receiving end of a vicious knockout from Stipe Miocic.

The devastating loss came just 43 seconds into the very first round as De Fries suffered the first defeat of his career. However, as a devastating as the loss was, fighters such as De Fries have two options—pack in the bag or continue getting better. De Fries chose the latter of the two. Changes were about to be made, and they were about to be made in a hurry.

De Fries (top) works to finish Thompson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

It began with De Fries dedicating himself to a full-time camp, which allowed him to focus solely on improving several aspects of his game.

“After losing to Stipe, I had a short while off with some minor injuries, and [in] that time I really started to reevaluate myself as a fighter and what I had to do to compete at the top level,” said De Fries in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “For the next camp, I decided to do the full camp at Alliance MMA in San Diego.

“Here, I could have the world-class sparring I would need with the likes of Phil Davis, Alex Gustafsson, Brandon Vera and Joey Beltran. This really helped with my confidence and focus going into the Oli Thompson fight. Having Eric Del Fierro devise my game plan was a huge help as well.”

The changes didn’t come to an end there, as De Fries not only would commit himself to becoming a full-time fighter, but also committed to changing his management.

“I really enjoyed my previous management team. However, I was committed to getting better, and this was a change that needed to be made,” De Fries admitted. “I feel I would benefit from a manager that I see in person more regularly, and my current manager is a coach here at Alliance.”

De Fries walks away in victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

After a change of scenery, De Fries was able to capture the second win of his UFC career with a second-round submission victory over Oli Thompson at UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera. The win propelled De Fries back into the discussion of top heavyweights.

Now, De Fries will turn his attention to a well-known name in Todd Duffee. Duffee replaces Matt Mitrione, who stepped up to fight Roy Nelson at the most recent Ultimate Fighter Finale.

“I feel like I can go out there and perform a lot better now that I have my first loss behind me. There have been some changes in my game plan, but the change in opponents was six weeks out, so I have had a lot of time to adjust game plans and strategies. I have been working a lot of different techniques I think will work well in this fight. I feel that I definitely have the advantage in grappling, and I feel I have more tidy striking where Duffee likes to come in wild,” said De Fries. “I feel I’ll be stronger than Duffee as well, and he fades in later rounds.”

“I’m feeling a second-round TKO victory, but I’ll take a win in any department.”

Top Photo: Phil De Fries (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)